A Tony Award that’s not special enough anymore.
Nine years ago, the Tony Awards debuted a new award for Special Theatrical Event, to honor those shows that were slipping between the categorical cracks (like Contact in 2000, which won Best Musical, much to the shock of its own creators, who said so in their acceptance speech).
Earlier this week, the Tony Awards dropped it.
And everyone I know is wondering why.
The good money (and mine) points to the lack of consistent nominees in the category. In the first year, there was only one nominee, and in three of the last nine years, there was no award given.
Could it also have been pressure to eliminate an award to slim down the telecast, allowing more time for the “creative awards”? Could it be that the voters weren’t attending these special shows (how many actually saw Soul of Shaolin)?
Whatever the reason, I’m going to miss the category. Sure, I’ll agree, if you can’t even find one nominee 33% of the time, then obviously the category is a little thin.
But still . . . if we didn’t have that category, then Elaine Stritch probably wouldn’t have won a Tony Award. And neither would Billy Crystal. And Def Poetry Jam too.
And Will Ferrell wouldn’t even have been nominated (and therefore probably would have never showed up).
Despite the lack of a plethora of nominees, the category seemed to be working for me. There were some tight races. There were some emotional victories.
And most importantly, there were some excellent performances and productions that deserved to be honored.
It will be a shame if the next Billy Crystal of Poetry Jam isn’t.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.