My Tony Award Predictions

Ok, here they are, as promised:  my predicts for what the 800 or so Tony Voters will select as the winners of this year’s Tony Awards.  To clarify, this is not what I think should win, nor is it what I necessarily voted for myself, but rather this is who I expect to be standing on that stage on Sunday night.

Drumroll, puhleeze.

BEST PLAY:  GOD OF CARNAGE

The French can be snooty and smelly, but neither of those adjectives apply to French writer Yasmine Reza or her work of “Art.”  Her star-studded, super-grossing ($900k for a play?), smart yet accessible comedy (complete with barf jokes) will win out over the primary competition, Labute’s reasons to be pretty.

BEST MUSICAL:  BILLY ELLIOT

The Best Musical landscape is similar to Best Play.  Another import, this one British, squares off against a smaller, perhaps more challenging, American musical, Next to Normal.  Unfortunately for all you patriots out there, the British and Billy will take the big prize of the evening.  And seeing the 147 kids in the show storm the stage at the end will be a sight to see, so stay up!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:  TOM KITT & BRIAN YORKEY, NEXT TO NORMAL

The Americans strike back here, as N2N deservedly picks up the score trophy.  This award also comes with a note from many voters that reads, “Sorry we didn’t vote for you for Best Musical.  We loved your show, but . . .”

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL:  LEE HALL, BILLY ELLIOT

For awhile, I thought N2N would pull a Urinetown or Falsettos split (and take both score and book while giving up the big prize to a more commercial choice, Millie and Crazy for You, respectively), as the voters like to reward writers of challenging work.  The upset of the night would be if the voters tipped their hat to Hunter Bell and the TOS crew with an award.  But frankly, I just don’t think enough of them saw the show last fall to make that happen.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY:  THE NORMAN CONQUESTS

Great revivals were like foreclosures this year . . . on every block!  (Too soon?)  This category would have been even tougher to pick, had the nominators not forgotten about some of the fall shows (specifically, The Seagull).  Norman gets the girl in this category, partly for its great production, and partly because of the degree of difficulty in staging three British comedies and running them in rep  (I’d also bet that a bunch of voters voted for Norman while only seeing one of the plays.)

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL:  HAIR

The Most Improved Show award goes to Hair this year.  Luckily, West Side doesn’t need it with its Wicked-like grosses (it’s a revival!).

BEST SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT:  LIZA’S AT THE PALACE

Obviously, I’m praying that I’m wrong with this one.  Will’s got a chance, thanks to the phenomenal success of the run and because it’s fresh in everyone’s memory.  But a Hollywood A-lister bringing down Broadway royalty seems like a long shot to me, so I’m putting my money on the safe bet. That’s ok.  I’m still happy having put my investors money on the other guy.  🙂

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN  A PLAY:  GEOFFREY RUSH, EXIT THE KING

This is the easiest to call, which is unfortunate for Raul Esparza, who deserves to have a couple of trophies on his mantle.  But God knows, he’ll have more chances to get up on that stage, as I don’t see him making an exit anytime soon.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN  A PLAY:  MARCIA GAY HARDEN, GOD OF CARNAGE

There is a 60 second section in God of Carnage where Marcia doesn’t utter a word.  But you can practically read her thoughts as if they were written in a bubble above her head.  She wins for that moment alone.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN  A MUSICAL: THE THREE BILLYS, BILLY ELLIOT

Tatum O’Neal, Daisy Eagan , Anna Paquin.  Voters love to give a kid a trophy.  And the only thing better than one kid nominee  . . . is three.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN  A MUSICAL:  ALICE RIPLEY, NEXT TO NORMAL

In an example of the Hollywood Rain Man syndrome (where playing a challenged individual of any type, physical or mental, gives you a boost at award time), Alice will win for her terrific portrayal of the challenged mom in N2N.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN  A PLAY:  JOHN GLOVER, WAITING FOR GODOT

This one could also be called the Best Spitter Award (previous winners would have included Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening).  John wins for saying the most with the least to actually say.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN  A PLAY:  ANGELA LANSBURY, BLITHE SPIRIT

There is currently only one woman who has won five Tony Awards.  After Sunday, there will be two.  Watch for the standing ovation when Angela takes the stage.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN  A MUSICAL:  CHRISTOPHER SIEBER, SHREK

The guy is on his knees for the whole show for Shrek’s sake!

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN  A MUSICAL:  HAYDEN GWYNNE, BILLY ELLIOT

Hayden hits a trifecta here:  Outer Critics, Drama Desk, Tony.  That much momentum can’t be stopped.

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY:  MATTHEW WARCHUS, GOD OF CARNAGE

For awhile, I thought Matthew’s two noms would split his vote, but then I saw I took another look at God’s grosses ($900k for a play?), and realized that he would take the Tony on the back of the show’s success, and deservedly so.

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL:  STEPHEN DALDRY, BILLY ELLIOT

For awhile, I was calling a bit of an upset here, because without Diane, Hair would not be the hit it is.  But at the end of the day, I think the majority of voters will give it to Daldry for the sheer magnitude of the work he did in directing Billy.

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY:  PETER DARLING, BILLY ELLIOT

When dancing is a major part of your plot, you better win choreography!  Hands and toes down, Darling is the winner.

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS:  MARTIN KOCH, BILLY ELLIOT

Big show + big score = Tony.

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY:  DEREK MCCLANE, 33 VARIATIONS

The other nominees in this category are mostly stationery sets, so Derek’s “musical” set wins.

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL:  IAN MACNEIL BILLY ELLIOT

They had to drill a giant hole in the basement of the theater to allow for that house to come up through the ground, like a man from a mine, but it’ll earn this man a Tony.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY:  DALE FERGUSON, EXIT THE KING

Whenever Kings and Queens are in a play, the odds for winning a costume award jumps up tremendously.  Normally, I’d say give this one to Mary Stuart, but I’m going with Dale, for the absurdist suit of armor.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL:  TIM HATLEY, SHREK

Costume awards go to designs that stand out, and in a field of nominations that include one show about the 60s and two shows about the 80s, Shrek certainly stands out.

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY:  HUGH VANSTONE, MARY STUART

On Broadway, “rain” is an electrician and a lighting designer’s job. It rains in Mary Stuart. And that’s cool and memorable. So it’ll rain a Tony on Hugh.

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSCIAL:  RICK FISHER, BILLY ELLIOT

With the design awards, sometimes bigger is better.  The bigger the show, the bigger the budget, and the more toys the designers have to play with.  In this case, bigger is Billy.

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY:  RUSSELL GOLDSMITH, EXIT THE KING

This is a tough one.  Your guess is as good as mine.  I went with the sounds of a dying king.  Creepy.

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL:  PAUL ARDITTI, BILLY ELLIOT

Paul will win for excellent work, yes, but also for a syndrome I call, “Tony By Association.”

So that’s it!  Make sure you tune in on Sunday to see how I do!  And don’t forget to make your picks on my Tony pool!  There is only 2 days left to play and win $500!  Click here.

If you’re not following me on Twitter, click here. Just like last year, I’ll be tweeting from my $900 seat (yep, that’s how it costs – crazy, huh?) and I’ll fill you in on everything that’s going on from inside Radio City, including the not-suitable for airing, in between commercial breaks stuff.

If you don’t yet have a place to watch – try Times Square!  The Tonys will be on the Big Screen!  With the new blocked off streets, it should be fun.  Tweet me from there if you go. I’d love to hear what the party is like.

Oh, one more prediction before I sign off:  during the telecast, I predict there will be two Jeremy Piven jokes.  🙂

Are there fewer long running shows on Broadway now than there used to be?

There was an interesting chart in last week’s Variety that listed all of the “long running shows” in Broadway history year by year (a “long run” by Variety standards is anything over 1,000 performances, or a little under 2.5 years).

Have you ever wondered if we’ve been producing the same number of 1000 show-runners as in previous years?

I did.

So, I broke it down by decade (since we’re almost at the end of another one), and here’s what I found out:

1910 – 1919    1 Long Runner
1920 – 1929    1
1930 – 1939    4
1940 – 1949    10
1950 – 1959    8
1960 – 1969    17
1970 – 1979    22
1980 – 1989    11
1990 – 1999    16
2000 – 2009    12*

*The actual count in our current decade is 11, but I’m going to predict that Billy Elliot will get added to the list and make it a perfect dozen.

You can see that Golden Age for the long running shows was in the 60s and 70s. So what did we lose in the 80s and beyond that took a bite out of these totals?

Well, here’s a hint . . .

In the 60s, 6 of the 17 long runners were plays.
In the 70s, 5 of the 22 long runners were plays.
In the 80s, 2 of the 11 long runners were plays.
In the 90s, there were ZERO long running plays.
In the 00s, there were ZERO long running plays.

The long running play is dead, and it has been for 20 years.

That doesn’t mean that plays can’t be successful.  The past two decades have produced financial and artistic successes like Doubt, Proof, and August.  But these unfortunate statistics should be used to help manage expectations for Producers and Investors when planning a production of a play.

The bigger question is what caused this shortened lifespan?  Is it the increase of our expenses? A change in our audience’s appetite?

Or is it simply the fact that Neil Simon isn’t writing new plays as often as he used to.

In the last five decades, 3 of those 13 long running plays or a whopping 1/3 of all the long running plays were by the master of two act comedies himself (and Mr. Simon also wrote one of the long running musicals as well).

Where is the next Neil when we need him/her?

The long running show faces significant challenges in the years ahead, thanks to our continued inflation of expenses, as well as the audience ceiling we’re smacking our head against.

My prediction is that the next decade will produce the lowest amount of long running shows since the 50s.

In the meantime, next season will see the revival of two of Mr. Simon’s best.

– – – – –

Only 3 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool.  Win $500!

Play today!  Click here!

Favorite Quotes Volume XX: Agents have to work it too.

The William Morris Agency has been in the news a lot lately because of its recent merger (to put it politely) with the younger company on the block, Endeavor.

So I figured if the WMA was in the news, why not on the blog, especially when their high ranking execs say things like this:

I didn’t have connections, I didn’t have experience and, initially, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I did know I could outwork just about anybody. If everyone else read two scripts a night, then I would read four. If everyone started reading four, then I would read eight. That was my competitive advantage: I just wanted it more.
– Mike Simpson

There’s a lot to learn from this one:  hard work, staying ahead of the competition, desire, etc.

But I use it to remind myself that Producers aren’t the only ones that work hard.  Those on the “other side of the aisle” have their own set of challenges just like we do, and it’s important to be able to see their side of the story.

Producers have to be able to see things from many perspectives.  And the best can put themselves in the shoes of the actors, the directors, and yes, even the agents.

– – – – -Only 4 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool.  Win $500!

Play today!  Click here!

What’s grosser than gross?

Why gross gross of course!

In yesterday’s box office gross posting, I alluded to a change in the box office figures as reported by the League.  After six months of deliberations about the reporting of grosses, including the fundamental question of whether or not they should be reported at all (yes, they should, btw), the League made some modifications to its policies.  Here are the basic changes:
  • Figures reported will now be “gross gross” rather than NAGBOR (Net Adjusted Gross Box Office Receipts).  The NAGBOR totals were after credit card deductions, group sales commissions, and a whole lot of other expenses from ticket printing and so on.
  • Total Attendance will now be what I’m calling Total Total Attendance.  Rather than just report paid attendance, the TT Attendance will include any and all complimentary tickets.
What does this mean?  Well, it doesn’t take a David Merrick to know that grosses and attendance are about to go up.
Bigger numbers are always better, and this will enable us to present our industry as an even bigger economic force.  The deductions that come off the Gross Gross vary per show, but it can easily be 10%+ of the total.  Another 10% tacked on to last year’s season’s totals would have put us well over 1 billion buckaroos.  In a year when we’ll be lucky to see an increase, and in an era when our flat lining gross could have put that billion dollar mark well out of our reach for another decade, modifying this reporting virtually guarantees that we’ll get there.
And why shouldn’t we?  As the League has rightly justified, this change puts us in line with other industries, most notably our big brother, Hollywood.  Do you think Hollywood’s grosses are reduced by every credit card surcharge from Fandango?  Nope.  And what about sales of video games, books, etc.?  In fact, I can’t think of any industry, entertainment related or not, that would reduce their sales by credit card service fees?  Do you?  And if there is one, they should change that up pronto.
The attendance modification, while not as justifiable as the reporting of the Gross Gross, still makes sense to me.  Frankly, the release of numbers in any private industry depends solely on how that industry wants to present itself, and the League has decided that the number of bodies present rather than just the number of paid bodies present is a better number to show.  Does it make us look better?  You bet.  That’s why press is all about.  Think about it this way, if you had to give a presentation to a big group of people, wouldn’t you comb your hair, put on some makeup, and make yourself look as good as possible so you would make a good impression?
For those that feel they’re getting an artificial financial perspective of the figures, don’t worry, the average paid admission is still being released, so you’ll still be able to get a sense of the ‘value of the experience’ for those Total Total attendees.
The only thing that concerns me is the inability for us to compare year over year over year of figures. Thankfully, the League has made some adjustments to last year’s figures, but any comparisons beyond that will be skewed.
But, the change had to be made, and so it was.  To those whose feathers may be ruffled, I ask them . . . if it had been this way from the beginning, would you have ever thought it to be odd?
And more importantly, would you ever have asked for it to be changed?
– – – – –

Only 5 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool.  Win $500!

Play today!  Click here!

Broadway Grosses w/e 5/31/09

SHOW NAME GROSS ATTENDANCE
9 TO 5 $755,755 10,487
ACCENT ON YOUTH $174,973 3,681
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY $188,062 3,251
AVENUE Q $242,406 3,897
BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL $1,253,482 11,258
BLITHE SPIRIT $481,117 6,885
CHICAGO $481,815 6,312
EXIT THE KING $497,725 6,894
GOD OF CARNAGE $911,320 8,766
GUYS AND DOLLS $429,552 7,032
HAIR $866,759 10,160
IN THE HEIGHTS $686,461 8,370
IRENA’S VOW $177,069 3,887
JERSEY BOYS $1,109,155 9,807
JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE $283,197 5,730
MAMMA MIA! $848,808 10,787
MARY POPPINS $743,982 11,596
MARY STUART $334,607 5,024
NEXT TO NORMAL $357,110 5,680
REASONS TO BE PRETTY $168,207 3,661
ROCK OF AGES $498,357 7,486
SHREK THE MUSICAL $673,539 9,127
SOUTH PACIFIC $784,560 7,093
THE 39 STEPS $124,573 2,661
THE LION KING $1,210,149 12,839
THE LITTLE MERMAID $699,006 10,171
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS $297,206 5,772
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $781,442 10,998
THE PHILANTHROPIST $208,348 3,961
WAITING FOR GODOT $500,273 7,852
WEST SIDE STORY $1,305,829 13,203
WICKED $1,552,347 14,472
TOTAL $19,627,188 248,800

Notice anything different
about these grosses? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry to hear what has
changed.

– – – – –
Only 6 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win $500!

Play today! Click
here!


Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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