What did you think about the 2019 Tony Award Telecast? Survey says . . .

Hey, all you Tony Awards viewers!

There has been a lot of chatter about this year’s Tony Award telecast, and I was super curious about what you, the people who read The Producer’s Perspective, (you know, the only people who really matter!), thought of this year’s show.

So, we did what my 5th-grade math teacher taught me to do when I had a question that I didn’t know the answer to . . . ASK.

We sent out a survey on my Top 5 Moments from the Telecast blog and also posted it on my Instagram, and now, here are the results.

Are you ready?

The results of the survey of this are:

On a scale of 1 to 10, here’s how you rated the Tony Awards Telecast:

6.33% gave it a 10

6.33% gave it a 9

29.11% gave it an 8

17.72% gave it a 7

6.33% gave it a 6

3.80% gave it a 5

5.06% gave it a 4

2.53% gave it a 3

1.27% gave it a 2

21.52% gave it a 1

Compared to last year’s telecast:

15.19% said it was much better

35.44% said it was better

32.91% said it was the same

13.92% said it was worse

2.53% said it was much worse

Your favorite overall part of the telecast (ranked from highest to lowest) was:

Production numbers – 50.63%

The opening number – 20.25%

Acceptance speeches – 13.92%

Finding out who won – 8.86%

The host – 5.06%

Other – 1% (Seeing friends & coworkers on stage and on TV at the same time!)

The presenters – 0%

Your favorite musical number was . . .

Hadestown – 21.52%

The Prom – 18.99%

Kiss Me, Kate – 12.66%

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations – 11.39%

Beetlejuice – 11.39%

Oklahoma – 11.39%

Choir Boy – 7.59%

Tootsie – 5.06%

Cher – 0%

Your favorite moment from the telecast was . . . 

Rachel Chavkin, Andre DeShields, and Ali Stroker’s acceptance speeches.

Hadestown win.

Michael in the Bathroom parody.

Stephanie J. Block winning her Tony.

Your least favorite part of the telecast was . . .

Not seeing a lot of the acceptance speeches or awards.

The playwrights speaking.

Too many commercials.

Not giving Be More Chill credit for the parody.

We asked what you would suggest to the Tony Producers to make it a more exciting evening.  Here are some quotes that represent the most common themes I heard:

“Televise more winners and speeches!”

“Show scenes from plays as well!”

“Do more unplanned bits (like Billy Porter)!”

If you missed the survey, but want to chime in, throw your thoughts in the comments below!

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/9/2019: Winners Claim Prize Money

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 9, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

My Top 5 Moments from the 2019 Tony Awards!

I just realized something.

Last night was my 30th anniversary of watching the Tony Awards.  And over the last three decades, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things, from Jonathan Larson’s sister accepting his posthumous trophy in 1996, saying, “It took Johnny fifteen years of really hard work to become an overnight sensation,” to the drama students from Parkland delivering the same Jonathan Larson’s hopeful “Seasons of Love” at the 2018 Tonys in spite of the tragedy they had just lived through.

And last night’s telecast had a bunch of special moments of its own.  Here are my Top 5 that got me to laugh, applaud, and made my heart thump a little harder:

  1. 3 out of the 4 Big Prizes were produced by Women.  Women had a great night overall, starting with Rachel Chavkin expectedly grabbing the Director prize (and also delivering a passionate speech about gender equality). But what I think people glossed over was the fact that the Best Musical prize, the Best Revival Prize, and the Best Play prize were all Lead Produced by women (the creatively courageous Mara Isaacs, Eva Price, and Sonia Friedman, respectively).  I ran these numbers a year ago and discovered that only 28% of all plays and musicals were Lead Produced by women.  So seeing and hearing from those three ladies at that podium was another step in the right direction, especially since LPs have such a crucial voice in the assembling of creative teams.  Congrats to them all.
  2. A win for all those with “Super Abilities.”  I was lucky enough to work with Ali Stroker on Spring Awakening and knew in an instant that this lady wasn’t going to let her wheelchair get in the way of achieving anything and everything she wanted.  And her speech said it perfectly.  There are kids of all different super abilities all over the world right now that have proof . . . actual, hard, statistical proof that it doesn’t effin’ matter what “limitation” the world may think you have, you can get to wherever you want to be.
  3. Two words . . . James Corden.  Enough said.  Except, can we please have a lifetime contract with him?  Great.  Thanks.
  4. The Hints at Next Season.  Award shows are intended to recognize excellence in an industry, but honestly, they are mostly a marketing tool for that same industry.  And that’s why I loved the little hints we got at the big shows opening next season.  Whether it was the mention of Sutton Foster appearing in Music Man or hearing from Moulin Rouge actor Danny Burstein, or even Audra McD talking about the currently running Frankie and Johnny (I liked that one especially since I’m a co-pro on it), I couldn’t help but think that my sixteen-year-old self would have started planning when I could come in to see . . . all of them.  I know there is never enough time to celebrate all the shows running in the current season, never mind the next one.  But on Broadway’s biggest night, the more we can plug what’s coming, the better for the biz.
  5. Yes, those are all the Producers and more.  There was a scuttlebutt scandal a couple of years ago about Co-Producers not being allowed on stage if their show won one of the big prizes.  The edict was ignored, and now it’s been forgotten.  I love seeing all those Co-Pros on the stage (kudos for the aforementioned Sonia Friedman for giving them a shout-out) . . . as well as the full companies of actors, creative team members, and more.  Best Play and Best Musical awards aren’t about one person. They actually could be renamed Best Collaboration!  They are the result of what is so unique about the theater . . . it takes a village to create a show.  And what a wonderful village it is.

Those are my Top 5 moments from last night’s Tony Awards.  What are yours?

Fill out our survey here to let us know what you thought of the show compared to other telecasts, and we’ll reveal the results right here!

And for a list of complete winners click here.


Special Tony Award Post: Three Myths About Tony Award Voting.

As we head into the nail-biting Tony Awards weekend, and as Producers are counting votes like the Minority Whip in the House of Representatives over an impeachment bill, I thought I’d dispel some common misconceptions about the Tony Award voting process.  And how do I know these are common?  Because I used to believe them myself!

So take these myths into account as you place your final votes on your Tony pool ballot this year.

1.  MYTH #1:  The “road” votes as a block for what will work well in their touring markets.

This is one of the oldest Broadway wives’ tales around.  And on paper it makes sense.  The theory being that the 100+ road-folk who are on the Tony Voter list vote with their markets in mind, and check boxes for shows that their audience will enjoy the most (which tends to be more, ahem, “commercial,” fare).

To that I say . . . The Band’s Visit beat Frozen and Mean Girls.  Avenue Q beat Wicked.  A Gentleman’s Guide beat Aladdin.  Fun Home won.  So did Once.  

History is filled with Best Musical prize winners that had shorter touring lives than the nominees they beat.  Voters vote with what they think is best . . . and actually, that tends to be the more “artistic” shows.

(There’s actually more of a correlation between a positive New York Times review than what will work on the road – which is consistent with the “art wins” idea.  And if Hadestown wins this Sunday, well . . . I rest my case.)

2.  MYTH #2:  Everybody votes.

When I was an Associate Company Manager on Broadway shows and handled Tony voting, I was shocked to see that not everyone reserved their tickets.  In fact, the highest turnout I’ve ever seen personally over the last 25 years (and the highest turnout I’ve ever heard of, from talking to my peers) is about 67%-70%.

A ton of voters aren’t in town.  Some just don’t vote.  Some can’t vote.

And this year, the Broadway League instituted a new “lock-out” feature on the electronic voting platform that prevents voters from checking a box in a category if they haven’t seen all the shows.  And they’re policing it big time.  Which is awesome.  (It’s a fantastic new security procedure that will take some of the politics out of the process and ensure more truth in voting, and I’m a big fan.)

That said, it may mean fewer votes.  Which means even closer races.  (Not to mention there are more shows on Broadway now than there were several years ago, which just makes it harder for people to see everything to be able to vote.)

Let’s do some quick math:  800 or so voters.  70% is 560.  If a few shows or performers split a vote, that could mean each nominee could get 150 or so votes.  That means the big prizes could be settled by just a handful!  So every vote counts (now) more than ever.

(I do wonder if we will see an increase in the number of voters in the coming years, just like we saw an increase in the number of nominators a few years ago, to guarantee a big swath of decision makers choosing what shows and artists will go down in history.)

3.  MYTH #3:  Campaigning doesn’t work.

Advertising works.  In everything.  And while there’s a fine line in awards campaigning between what sways a vote and what pushes a vote in the opposite direction, the right campaign can do what great advertising does . . . remind a decision maker of the benefits of a product and why that decision maker should use and recommend that product to others.

A few voter friends of mine have scoffed at the amount of stuff that gets mailed to each voter every single year, thinking that it doesn’t change their mind.  It might not change it, but I do know that campaigning can make people think twice.  It’s becoming a huge strategy with some science as well.

Hollywood has brought on special Academy Awards Campaigners for award season.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happen in our industry in the next five years.

No matter what myth you believe in or don’t, the fact is that Sunday is the biggest night for the theater of the entire year.  And this Sunday looks to be one of the most exciting in terms of the number of possible upsets!

So, you’re tuning in, right?

Sunday night.  8 PM.  CBS.  Full details here.

I’m having a Tony party.  Want to come?  Email me for how to get on the invite list.

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation and What It Has To Do With The Tony Awards.

I can’t tell you the last time I stepped inside a movie theater.

And since just a year ago it was reported that movie theater attendance was at a 25 year low (!), I would bet you a bucket of overpriced popcorn that it has been a while since YOU have visited your local cineplex yourself.  (Side note:  Broadway attendance is at an all-time high – who’s the growth industry now, huh?)

It’s not that I don’t like a good movie.  I really do.  I just don’t go.  I like, however, when the good movies come to me . . . via Netflix, Hulu or . . . when my wife gets her “screeners” for the SAG awards.

See, Tracy is a SAG member, so she gets a vote, which means she has to watch the flicks. And the producers of the nominated films make it easy for her to do so by sending her DVDs or by making the movies available online.

So guess what we did on our Xmas vacation?  We snuggled up with some Jiffy Pop Popcorn (I’m old school like that) and watched everything from Bohemian Rhapsody to The Green Book and more.

Which got me to thinking . . .

Could Broadway shows have screeners?

It has now become customary for most Broadway shows to invite the voters to come bacto see the show a 2nd time after the Tony nominations are announced, especially if a show opens in the fall (as I wrote about here). But that’s hard for a lot of voters, especially during the spring, when there are gobs of new shows to see before the end of the season deadline.

So what if we sent videos?

I know, it wouldn’t be the same.  A video doesn’t tell the same theatrical story as being in the theater.  But it’s better than NOT seeing it.

And I know we’re not currently allowed to distribute full recordings.  But maybe the unions would allow it if it was for voter promotional purposes?  After all, a show winning an award helps that show run longer, which is better for everyone, isn’t it?

We could do it online and have the passwords expire (if the movie industry can protect their screeners against theft and piracy, surely we can too).

I believe in pushing every button possible in a promotional campaign, especially when something as high stakes as an award is on the line.  And this is an option that I’d like to see available to us, even if not every show chose to exercise it.

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The London Theater Maker Social is just FIVE days away!  Can you get yourself to London on Tuesday, January 15th?  Come on down and let me buy you a drink!  See here for more.