What did you think about this year’s Tony Awards? Survey says . . .

As we’ve done for the last several years, the morning after The Tony Awards, we put together a survey to find out what you, the passionate Broadway lover, thought about the Tony Awards telecast.

A week and a ton of passionate responses later, and the results are in.

Here’s what you thought of the 2014 Tony Awards Telecast:


– 99.1% of you watched The Tony Awards

– On a scale of 1-10, here’s how you rated this year’s telecast:

10:  7.73%
9:  11.6%
8:  31.49%
7:  24.86%
6: 11.05%
5: 6.63%
4: 2.76%
3: 3.31%
2: 0.55%
1: 0.0%

– How would you compare this year’s telecast to last year’s?

Worse: 40.61%
The same: 22.84%
Better: 20.3%
Much worse: 8.63%
Much  better: 7.61%

NOTE FROM KEN:  Yikes.  I actually think last year’s telecast was so good, the bar was just a little high this year.  Regardless, you liked last year’s more.  See below my theory as to why.

–  What was your favorite part of the telecast?

Production numbers: 49.49%
Finding out who wins: 16.16%
The host: 12.63%
Acceptance speeches: 12.63%
Other: 5.56%
Opening number: 3.03%
The presenters: 0.51%
Other responses : Hugh Jackman singing/dancing with the leading lady nominees

NOTE FROM KEN:  Last year, over 48% of you chose the opening number as their favorite part of the telecast.  This year, that was only 3.03%.  All that hopping by Hugh just didn’t seem to “land,” no pun intended.  And as a result, the production number rating went way up.  These two categories are a see-saw.  If one goes up, the other goes down.

 – What was your least favorite part of the telecast?

Here are a few comments that represent your least favorite parts:

Future (maybe) productions and no “In Memoriam”.

The previews. I understand that they are using this as a commercial for Broadway, but I’d rather celebrate this past season. Those shows previewed will have their chance later. I would much rather have seen something from The Bridges of Madison County.

The omission of IN MEMORIAM and not broadcasting the awards for Best Score and Best Book of a Musical

Not telecasting the memorial of those who died.

Not getting to see all of the awards presented.

Hugh Jackman hopping through the theater to open the show. WTF?

I’d rather have seen nominee Kelli O’Hara do a number from the Tony Award winning score than a last minute number from Finding Neverland.

–  What musical production number was your favorite?

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: 28.28%
Hedwig and the Angry Inch: 22.73%
Beautiful: 12.63%
Aladdin: 7.07%
Les Misérables: 6.57%
After Midnight: 6.06%
If/Then: 5.56%
Violet: 4.55%
Bullets over Broadway: 2.02%
Cabaret: 2.02%
Wicked: 1.52%
Finding Neverland: 0.51%
Rocky: 0.51%
The Last Ship: 0%

 NOTE FROM KEN:  I was a little surprised that Gentleman’s Guide was your favorite number.  Not that it wasn’t terrific, but I just expected more Aladdins and Beautifuls and #s from big ol’ spectacle shows.  Maybe you voted for it because it won?

– Some suggestions for the Tony Award producers that represent comments that came up multiple times:

Include Best Book and Best Score in the live televised program.

Focus on the experiences that Broadway has to offer, not on movie stars.

Get new writers for host’s material.

More “original” production numbers created just for the Tonys.

Show the technical and design awards during the live telecast.

Bring back more Broadway legends.

Give the plays more time.


So that’s what you thought!

What did the Nielsen families think?  The ratings came in at the tune of 7 million total viewers, which was down just a fraction from the year before.

Unfortunate, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse . . . and since this season didn’t have a Mormon like blockbuster, it’s not surprising that we were flat.

The Tonys are only as good as the Broadway season.  So lets pray we’ve got a good one coming up, so we can grow our ratings, and grow our audience.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Scott Rice says:

    I’m not at all surprised that “Gentlemen’s Guide” and “Hedwig” were the top production numbers in this survey, as they were the only two numbers the entire night that were true “performances.” Both the GGLAM performers and NPH were truly giving it all they had, and I think that resonated with viewers.

    Most of the other production numbers, including the opening, were either energetically flat, or just a plain marketing plug. Viewers can recognize a commercial and either tune out, or just not care.

    When the Tony producers realize that viewers actually respond to seeing legit Broadway performers doing what they do best, they might be surprised by the ratings. That’s what was so great about the opening number last year: it showcased a gazillion Broadway performers giving it all they have with a host right up there in the middle of them doing the exact same thing. Even my non-theatre loving friends were impressed.

  • corey says:

    thank you for doing this Ken

  • Zach says:

    I didn’t get a chance to take the survey, but I really did not like the inclusion of a full performance from Wicked. It’s a great show, yes, but a show that needs no additional attention and has nothing to do with the current season.

    I agree that creative arts awards should be in the telecast, but I don’t want the evening to feel rushed. The timing is a balancing act. I loved the Aladdin number, it was exciting to get to see that performance for the first time.

    Here’s hoping next year is better! And bring back sound design!

  • Zach says:

    I didn’t get a chance to take the survey, but I really did not like the inclusion of a full performance from Wicked. It’s a great show, yes, but a show that needs no additional attention and has nothing to do with the current season.

    I agree that creative arts awards should be in the telecast, but I don’t want the evening to feel rushed. The timing is a balancing act. I loved the Aladdin number, it was exciting to get to see that performance for the first time.

    Here’s hoping next year is better! And bring back sound design!

  • Brad says:

    I want PBS to bring back the 1 hour pre-show that featured all the technical stuff. I vividly recall when they did that for a few years and I LOVED it. As a theater nerd, I always like to hear from the scenic, lighting, costume and other artists involved behind the scenes. I remember marvelling at how small the backstages are of Broadway shows and being more impressed at what I saw onstage.

  • Will says:

    I thought the “GG” performance was hands-down the best of the night and I wasn’t even a great fan of that show. “Hedwig,” of course, was very entertaining and NPH proved once again what a true showman he is.

    The “Cabaret” performance was good but why they chose yet again to do “Wilkommen” is beyond me. They should’ve just had Alan Cumming do “I Don’t Care Much” instead standing at a microphone and he could’ve blown the roof off the mother with that number. Missed opportunity.

    • Michael Edan says:

      Survey response did not surprise me for the most part. ‘GG’ got such high votes because it was an example of a very creative musical number, lyrics, and outstanding performances. It made me want to see the show, which I haven’t yet. I WAS surprised that ‘Violet’ was so low on the production numbers, as Sutton is so wonderful and the gospel was rocking. And ‘Hedwig’ was also rocking. I really like the idea of having a pre-Tony hour special. They could do a fun and creative educational look at a certain technical aspect of theatre in some detail with interviews, back stage tours, past ‘historic’ landmarks in theater relative to the aspect being focused on [lights, set design, choreography, costumes, sound design, even the rehearsal process]. In the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ there’s the line “if you build it they will come.” When will television producers realize and trust that IF they put on a thought provoking, well designed and thought out awards show [that has ‘glitz’, ‘quality scripting’, ‘fun’, and even ‘pathos’ [memorial]people WILL come to the show. And yes, can we PLEASE bring back Broadway legends to present some awards.

  • Michael Cordray says:

    NBC threw “Miss USA” into the mix this year (last year they used reruns of “The Voice” & “America’s Got Talent”) which could have drawn some viewer’s from the Tonys. I haven’t compared the year to year numbers but ABC had NBA finals both years which shouldn’t have drawn too many potential Tony fans either year.

  • Jane says:

    People don’t realize the producers have to pay to put a production number on the Tonys. It can cost upwards of 100k. No wonder bridges which already closed didn’t spend the money for a performance.

  • Jennifer says:

    Agree with what has been said.
    1: THANK YOU for your blog Ken.
    I enjoy it and forward it OFTEN.

    2: Thank you for including the grosses. I was curious what kind of ‘bump’ the tix sales grosses would reflect AFTER the Tony’s.

    3: As mentioned above there was really a lot of competition from the other networks. In addition to USA padgent and NBA playoffs – I believe another network had a country awards. (there are SOO many – I can’t keep them straight)

    4: GG was a GREAT number. Clever staging/lyrics really well performed…All those ‘creative art’ things that go in to a show!

    5: How much did it cost IF/THEN producers to send Idina on to the passerella to sing a solo from the show? Would have LOVED to see Ms. O’Hara do the same. I can remember MANY a TONY year where a scaled down number from a ‘show that has closed’ has been shown at the TONYS.

    “Wicked” number was odd. Great song and I’m sure in the context of the show she holds that book but an unsed prop just looks odd in that setting. There was SO MUCH hype leading up to ‘just a song in costume’. Performed well, but…meh.

    I could go on but….I need to be working on our next season…oh, and there’s new book I need to order…all about fundraising…I think its called “Raise it” 🙂

  • Ted K. says:

    Finalist of the Davenport Songwriting Competition, here.

    Had to comment in lyric form. You can guess from the first line what the tune is.

    Can you hear the people, Sting?
    Wondering why you sang tonight.
    Though your talent is quite infinite
    It still did not seem right.

    And the song from “Neverland”
    Could have waited till next year.
    So bring back Best Book and Score to the forefront here.

    Though we know that CBS
    Is trying hard to get more folks
    To watch the stage festivities,
    Please lose the corny jokes.

    Yet Hugh and Neil are still the best,
    To theater folks are kin.
    But the rapping of patter will never bring in the win!

    Can you hear the people, Sting?
    Hoping the Tonys will once more
    Focus on theater and all its gang
    And slam the movie door.

    Wicked excess filled the night,
    “Madison County”, got a slight.
    Solving the problem is quite easy to do, yes.
    Show the first hour as it once was on PBS.
    On P … B … S!!!!

  • George says:

    Yup, that survey pretty much was in synch with my impressions… and I didn’t last much past the Aladdin performance (and that was so disappointing that I feared I had wasted my $$$ until I saw the show this last Saturday and I actually preferred the Understudy!)

    The only point – that I will continue to belabor because it means – less – butts in seats…. was Hugh’s Opening… not that it wasn’t so WTF… but the Preacher’s Moment advocating Gay Marriage…

    Why! Why! Why!

    I know Hugh doesn’t care – he gets his $$$ upront – but he just – lost – more butts in seats than his appearance on the show was supposed to bring in…

    Again – I don’t really have strong feelings about Gay Marriage – but I have GREAT interest in NOT insulting my (potential) audience and, essentially, calling anyone who does not agree with “Tony” people… idiots… simply is shooting oneself in the foot…. for NOTHING.

    Gay people are gonna get married anyway…

    People who reject “gay” as “marriage” are going to continue rejecting “gay marriage”

    Why do (we) really want to get into this issue??? Especially if – intolerant – of the other side??? Why insult Half of your potential audience???

    There seems to be an attitude “we don’t want them… we don’t need ’em”

    What marketeer of any “product” thinks this way???

    This is just a major disconnect for me… where I really don’t understand the rationale behind this “small potatoe” (esp compared to the REAL problems that will slam us in the coming years… this Crusade to promote acceptance of Gay Marriage is gonna seem as silly as the obession over Monica Lewinsky’s BJ in the coming years…

    I only say – again – because the people I was watching the Tony’s with quit right there and tuned out….

    “Oh, that’s your Broadway people, Georgie”

    And I was the only one left watching… for a little while longer…


  • Jared says:

    Ken, I think your little note about being surprised that “Gentleman’s Guide” scored so high is a bit dismissive of the show.

    What seems so obvious watching at home, but what so few show producers seem to realize, is that the Tony numbers need to be self contained. It needs to be 100% understandable and enjoyable to someone who hasn’t seen the show; that’s what makes it work out of context.

    The “Gentleman’s Guide” number is a complete scene (it starts when Phoebe enters and follows through to her exit), AND Jefferson Mays’ introduction gave anyone who hadn’t seen the show just enough background information to follow the show. Also, those actors are all amazing.

    Similarly, because “Hedwig” is set up like a concert and the song “Sugar Daddy” is specifically designed to be her radio “single” (which by definition has to stand on its own), that number works with zero setup. And again, NPH is fantastic in the role.

    All the other numbers were condensed in some way, or required too much background information to be fully enjoyable outside the context of the show. Idina sounding amazing, but we had not context for what she was singing about. Same thing with Sutton Foster and the cast of “Violet.” And now that we’ve gotten so good at structuring musical theatre songs to further story and plot, seeing them with no context or worse, truncated (either to fit time constraints or to try and squeeze multiple songs into the performance), makes them less effective.

    For instance, I felt that the “Aladdin” number didn’t come across as well on TV as it does in the theatre (and I was ecstatic when I saw it in the theatre). In condensing the song to fit their allotted 5 minutes, they took out some of the breathing room the song has in the theatre, which made the whole thing feel frantic. And medleys almost never work, which I think hurt “Beautiful.” They would have been better off just having Jesse Mueller and Carole King perform the full version of “I Feel the Earth Move.”

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