My Reactions to the 2017 Tony Award Nominations.

It seemed like just yesterday that the big question about the Tony nominations was how many Hamilton was going to get.

That’s right, my dear readers, a year has already come and gone, and just yesterday the 2017 Tony Award nominations were announced.  (And I wouldn’t have been surprised if Hamilton had sneaked one in this year, somehow – Best Ridiculous Amount of Gross Box Off Receipts perhaps?)

So what did I think of the nominations this year?

Well, as a co-producer of Groundhog Day, I was pretty pleased. 🙂

The first thing I do when I study the nominations as a whole is see who got the most.  And that award went to Natasha, Pierre this year, which I’d expect will give this show a nice boost at the box office, even though it may not be the show people think will take home the big prize

Why will it get the boost?  Well, because whenever a show gets the greatest number of nominations, it appears in the headline in stories like this NY Times article.  And that sells tickets.

And if you remember, we studied two very different musicals a few years ago, Gentleman’s Guide and Beautiful and we graphed what happened to their grosses right after the nominations came out (see those fascinating case study results here).

I was also super-psyched to see four American writers up for the best play prize.  While plays may be having a tough time attracting big business this year amidst all the musicals, there is no question that the American Play is alive and kicking (and screaming, and punching, and laughing, too).

The next thing that stood out to me this year about the Tony nominations, wasn’t any of the nominations itself, it was the depth of choices in the categories, especially for Best Musical.

And, I know I’ve said this before, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d see an expansion of that specific category to include five musicals instead of four.  I don’t know of any year where I’ve seen so many shows (and successful ones) left out, including Anastasia, A Bronx Tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, War Paint, Bandstand, and Amelie.

Now, I know, the Tonys should be about excellence, if the nominating committee doesn’t feel like there are five shows worthy of the artistic nod, then so be it.  But here’s the thing, there is a mechanism in place to allow for five nominees . . . but in order to expand there has to be a minimum number of shows eligible (9) and there has to be 3 or fewer votes separating the 4th and 5th choice.

I’m a proponent of eliminating the 3 or fewer votes restriction (or at least increasing), and allowing the category to be expanded solely based on if there are more eligible shows.  Because, yes, while we do always want to maintain the artistic standards of the Tony Award, this is just the nominations, which I believe also should represent the depth and diversity of the Broadway season.

That said, this may be the first year where shows defiantly prove that they don’t need a nomination to survive and thrive.  Anastasia, Charlie, and A Bronx Tale have been doing quite well at the box office . . . so don’t expect them to disappear just because they didn’t get a nom for the big prize.  And when they get a performance slot on the show (and they will), they could sell more tickets than some of the nominees!

Whatever you thought about the noms, you can’t deny that this was an incredible Broadway season, with two totally original musicals amidst the four nominees, American plays and American actors crushing categories, and, well . . . unlike last year . . . just about every category could be a photo finish.

What did you think about the nominations this year? (For a full list, click here)

And if you think you can pick the winners, stay tuned, because we’ll be announcing our annual Tony Award pool this year!

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  • Gregg says:

    Good stuff, Ken. If I may, I’d like to offer one modest suggestion to overall Tony Award voting that would help end confusion and frustration about the nominating process. The binary vote. I always struggled with the subjective vote on a Tony ballot. How do you deem one nominee better than 2 or 3 others? To address this, I created an algorithm that converts self-created subjective variables into metrics. These metrics deliver a binate decision on eligible candidates. The ballot vote is no longer ‘best of 4 or best of 5’, but simply ‘Best.’ Granted, that’s not the way the entire pool ultimately votes, but for me, it eliminates friction. More importantly, it lessens probability and lessens choosing one OVER another. It’s no longer an Monty Hall game but a systematic decision.

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