Just days after the 68th Tony Awards were handed out, the annual event’s administration committee met one last time to discuss protocol for the upcoming 2014-15 Broadway season. And the rules, they are a-changin’.
The buzziest change affects sound designers, who make up about twenty percent of the already under-praised design teams who create the highly technical spectacles known as Broadway shows. The Tony committee plans to eliminate the awards for Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical as of next season — although it retains “the right to determine a special Tony award for certain productions that have excelled in this particular design realm.” This is essentially the committee’s way of (inaccurately) declaring that all sound design is the same, except when it’s not.
But oh, those sound designers aren’t happy about this switch. Tony-nominated sound designer John Gromada has already launched a petition to reinstate the Sound Design categories. As of this posting, it’s mere votes away from hitting its 7,000 signature goal.
Another change feels directly related to this year’s ceremony. First, a little backstory: Although Hedwig and the Angry Inch had never been on Broadway before 2014, the committee deemed it part of “the popular repertoire” and therefore placed the production in the Best Revival of a Musical category. (Similar decisions have been made for shows like Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Assassins, this year’s Violet, and plays like The Normal Heart, all of which had notable lives prior to their Broadway debuts despite never previously appearing on Broadway.) But even though Hedwig ended up winning the Tony for Best Revival, the show’s authors John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask didn’t receive awards — and they couldn’t be nominated for Best Original Score, either.
So, in a little sign of good faith, the committee has ruled that from this point on, the authors and creators of revived plays and musicals will be included in a show’s victory, along with the show’s producers. It’s a nice and necessary gesture, and will result in much-deserved Tonys for folks who missed out on their chance to win on their own. (In the press room this year, Hedwig composer Trask was very vocal about authors of faux-revivals being recognized as first-timers.)