Tony Award

Tony Award

Infobox award
name = Tony Award
current_awards = 62nd Tony Awards

imagesize = 200px
caption = Designed by Herman Rosse, 1949
description = Excellence in theatre
presenter = American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League
country = USA
year = 1947
website =
The Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Awards, recognize achievement in live American theatre and are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League [The League of American Theatres and Producers was renamed "The Broadway League" [] ] at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are for Broadway productions and performances, as well as discretionary non-competitive Special Tony Awards and the Regional Theatre Tony Award, and the Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. [ [ Tony Homepage] and [ "About the Tonys: Who We Are"] ] The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

The rules for the Tony Awards are set forth in the official document "Rules and Regulations of The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards", which applies for each season only. [ [ Tony Awards Rules and Regulations for 2006-07 season] ]

In British theatre, the equivalent of the Tony award is the Olivier Award, and a number of the world's longest-running and most successful shows have been successful in receiving award nominations for both West End theatre and Broadway productions and a number of leading actors, choreographer and designers have also been successful in receiving award nominations on both sides of the Atlantic. The Tony are considered the highest theatre honor, the U.S. theatre industry's equivalent to the Academy Awards (Oscars) for motion pictures.

The 2008 Tony Awards ceremony was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 15, 2008, and broadcast on CBS television, with the nominations having been announced on May 13. [ [ The American Theatre Wing Tony Awards - Official Website] ]

The 63rd Tony Awards will be held on June 7, 2009, with a three-hour broadcast on CBS television. The cut-off for nomination eligibility for the 2008-2009 Broadway season will be April 30, 2009. [Gans, Andrew. [ "63rd Annual Tony Awards Will Be Presented June 7, 2009",], September 11, 2008]


Awarded by a panel of approximately 700 judges from various areas of the entertainment industry and press, the Tony Award is generally regarded as the theatre's equivalent to the Oscars, for excellence in film; the Grammys for the music industry, and the Emmys for excellence in television. The award was founded by the American Theatre Wing in 1947 at the suggestion of a committee of theatrical producers headed by Brock Pemberton, but it was not until the third awards ceremony in 1949 that the first Tony medallion was actually given to award winners. The award is named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer and co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, who had recently passed away. The first awards ceremony was held on April 6 1947, at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

The Tony Award trophy consists of a medallion, a mix of mostly brass and a little bronze, with a nickel plating on the outside; a black acrylic glass base, and the nickel-plated pewter swivel. [] Since 1967, the award ceremony has been broadcast on US national television and includes songs from the nominated musicals, as well as video clips of, or presentations about, nominated plays. The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League jointly present and administer the awards. Audience size for the telecast is generally well below that of other awards shows, but the program reaches an affluent audience, which is prized by advertisers. [ [ Tony Homepage] ]

Details of the Tony Awards

"Note: all information except the rules for a new play are from: [ Tony Rules and Regulations] "

Rules for a "new" play or musical

For the purposes of the award, a "new" play or musical is one that has not previously been produced on Broadway and is not part of the "historical or popular repertoire." This phrase has been the subject of some controversy, as some shows have been ruled ineligible for the "new" categories, meaning that their authors did not have a chance to win the marquee awards of Best Play or Best Musical (or Best Score or Best Book for musicals). On the other hand, some people feel that allowing plays and musicals which are commonly produced to be eligible as new gives them an unfair advantage, because they will have benefited from additional development time as well as additional familiarity with the Tony voters. Shows recently transferred from Off-Broadway or the West End are eligible as new, as are productions based closely on movies.


The "Administration Committee" has 24 members: 10 designated by the American Wing, 10 by The Broadway League, and one each by the Dramatists Guild, Actors' Equity Association, United Scenic Artists, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. This committee, among other duties, determines eligibility for nominations in all awards categories. The Administration Committee for 2006-07: [ Tony Awards site]

The "Nominating Committee" makes the nominations for the various categories. This rotating group of up to 30 theatre professionals is selected by the Tony Awards "Administration Committee". Nominators serve three-year terms and are asked to see every new Broadway production. Nominators for 2007-2008 are listed at [] .

There are approximately 750 eligible voters, a number that changes slightly from year to year. These include the board of directors and designated members of the advisory committee of the American Theatre Wing; members of the governing boards of Actors' Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, United Scenic Artists, and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers; those persons whose names appear on the first night press list; members of the Theatrical Council of the Casting Society of America; and voting members of The Broadway League.

Eligibility date ("Season")

To be eligible for Tony Award consideration, a production must have officially opened by the "eligibility date" that the Management Committee establishes each year. For example, the cut-off date for eligibility for the 2007-08 season was May 7, 2008; the cut-off date for the 2008-09 season will be April 30, 2009. The "Season" for Tony Award eligibility is defined in the Rules and Regulations.

"Broadway" theatre

A Broadway theatre is defined as having 500 or more seats, among other requirements. While the Rules define a "Broadway" theatre in terms of its size, not its geographical location, the list of "Broadway" theatres is determined solely by the Tony Awards Administration Committee, and as of the 2006-2007 season, the list consists solely of theaters located in or around Times Square in New York City. [ [ Tony Awards Rules and Regulations for 2006-07 season] ] [ [ "" article, Feb. 7, 2008, ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Broadway or Off-Broadway—Part I] ]

Award categories

There are presently 27 categories of awards, plus several special awards. Starting with 11 awards in 1947, the names and number of categories have changed over the years; a complete history of each award category was published in 2005. [ [ History of Tony categories] ] A newly established non-competitive award, The Isabelle Stevenson Award, will be given for the first time at the awards ceremony in 2009. The award is for an individual who has made a "substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations." [Gans, Andrew. [ "Tony Awards to Present Isabelle Stevenson Award in May 2009",], October 8, 2008]

*Best Play
*Best Musical
*Best Book of a Musical
*Best Original Score
*Best Revival of a Play
*Best Revival of a Musical
*Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
*Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
*Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
*Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
*Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
*Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
*Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
*Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
*Best Direction of a Play
*Best Direction of a Musical
*Best Choreography
*Best Orchestrations
*Best Scenic Design of a Play
*Best Scenic Design of a Musical
*Best Costume Design of a Play
*Best Costume Design of a Musical
*Best Lighting Design of a Play
*Best Lighting Design of a Musical
*Best Sound Design of a Play (added for 2008)
*Best Sound Design of a Musical (added for 2008)
*Best Special Theatrical EventSpecial categories
*Regional Theatre Tony Award
*Special Tony Award (includes Lifetime Achievement Award)
*Tony Honors for Excellence in TheatreRetired awards
*Tony Award for Best Author
*Best Conductor and Musical Director
*Tony Award for Best Revival (replaced by separate musical and play awards)
*Tony Award for Best Stage Technician


While the theatre-going public may consider the Tony Awards to be the Oscars of live theatre, critics have suggested that the Tony Awards are primarily a promotional vehicle for a small number of large production companies and theatre owners in New York City. [cite news
last = Okrent
first = Daniel
title = There's No Business Like Tony Awards Business
language = English
publisher = The New York Times
date= May 9, 2004
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-07
] Only shows playing in one of 39 "Broadway" theatres designated by the Tony Awards Management Committee are eligible for the Tony Awards. The 39 "Broadway" theatres are all large venues located between 40th and 66th Streets and 6th and 10th Avenues in New York City, an area surrounding Broadway from Times Square to Lincoln Center. Shows playing in "off-Broadway" or "off-off-Broadway" theatres, or shows playing outside of New York City, are not eligible. Since there are only 39 theatres, only a portion of which will be featuring a "new" production in any given season, and 27 award categories, it's likely that many "new" shows will reap at least one award.

Award milestones

Some notable records and facts about the Tony Awards include the following: [ [ Did You Know, Official Tony Website] ]

* Harold Prince has won 21 Tony Awards, more than anyone else, including eight for directing, eight for producing, two as producer of the year's Best Musical, and three special Tony Awards.
* The most Tony Awards ever received by a musical was "The Producers" with 12 awards, including best musical.
* The most Tony Awards ever received by a non-musical was "The Coast of Utopia" with 7 awards including best play, in 2007. "The History Boys" and the original production of "Death of a Salesman" previously held the record with 6 each.
* Stephen Sondheim has won more Tony Awards than any other composer, with eight Tony Awards: Best Music and Best Lyrics for "Company" (1971); Best Score for "Follies" (1972), "A Little Night Music" (1973), "Sweeney Todd" (1979), "Into the Woods" (1988), "Passion" (1994); and Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (2008).
* Julie Harris has won the most performance Tony Awards, and has been nominated more than any other performer. She has won five awards for her roles in "I Am a Camera" - 1952, "The Lark" - 1956, "Forty Carats" - 1969, "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" - 1973, and "The Belle of Amherst" - 1977. She has been nominated a total of ten times.
* Only three actresses have been nominated in two acting categories in the same year: Amanda Plummer, Dana Ivey, and Kate Burton.
*"South Pacific" (1950) is the only show (Play or Musical) to win Best Production (Musical), Actor (Ezio Pinza), Actress (Mary Martin), Featured Actor (Myron McCormick), Featured Actress (Juanita Hall) and Direction (Joshua Logan).
*Bob Fosse has won the most Tony Awards for choreography, eight, and one more for direction. Choreography: "The Pajama Game" (1955), "Damn Yankees" (1956), "Redhead" (1959), "Little Me" (1963), "Sweet Charity" (1966), "Pippin" (1973), "Dancin'" (1978), and "Big Deal" (1986). Direction: "Pippin" (1973).
* The musicals that fared most poorly on Tony night were "Chicago" (1976) and "Steel Pier" (1997), both of which received 11 nominations but won no awards. Coincidentally, both shows have scores by John Kander and Fred Ebb. "Chicago" competed against "A Chorus Line", which dominated the musical categories with nine awards. "Steel Pier" saw several of its nominations lose to the revival of "Chicago" which, on its second outing, took home six awards. The play " Indiscretions" (1995), was not far behind, being nominated for nine awards and winning none.
* While several performers have won Tonys for roles that have involved cross dressing, only two have won for performing in roles in which the character is actually a member of the opposite sex: Mary Martin in the title role of "Peter Pan" (1955) and Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray" (2003).
* Only a handful of shows have won the triple crown of design awards; Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting Design: "Follies" (1972), "The Phantom of the Opera" (1988), "The Lion King" (1998), "The Producers" (2001), "The Light in the Piazza" (2005), "The Coast of Utopia" (2007) and the revival of South Pacific (2008). Oliver Smith is the scenic designer with the most Tony Awards, eight: "My Fair Lady" (1957), "West Side Story" (1958), "The Sound of Music" (1960), "Becket" (1961), "Camelot" (1961), "Hello, Dolly!" (1964) and "Baker Street" (1965), as well as a special Tony Award (1965). Jules Fisher is the lighting designer with the most Tony Awards, eight: "Pippin" (1973), "Ulysses in Nighttown" (1974), "Dancin' " (1978), "Grand Hotel: the Musical" (1990), "The Will Rogers Follies" (1991), "Jelly's Last Jam" (1992), with Peggy Eisenhauer, "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk" (1996), and "Assassins" (2004). He has received 19 nominations as a lighting designer and one as a producer, of "Dancin"'.
* The 2008 revival of South Pacific took home all four Creative Arts Tony Awards in Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Sound Design.
* Boyd Gaines is the only performer to be nominated for all four performance awards that a performer is eligible for. He was nominated for the Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1989 for "The Heidi Chronicles", Best Actor in a Musical in 1994 for "She Loves Me", Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2000 for "Contact", Best Actor in a Play in 2007 for "Journey's End" and Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2008 for "Gypsy". The only one of these awards that he did not win was Best Actor in a Play for "Journey's End".
* Only three musicals in history have taken home the Tony Award for Best Musical while the book, music, and lyrics where written by one person: Meredith Wilson for The Music Man, Rupert Holmes for The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Jonathan Larson for Rent. Holmes and Larson have also won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and Tony Award for Best Original Score.
* The Tony Award equivalent of the Academy Award's Big Five would be the six awards :Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Direction. So far only three musicals have accomplished such a feat: South Pacific, , and Hairspray

References in media

*In the Seinfeld episode The Summer of George, Jerry and Kramer are at the Tonys and Kramer is seen carrying a Tony for the fictional play, Scarsdale Surprise, that he took along with him. Unfortunately, after a beatdown by Raquel Welch, his Tony is smashed to bits.

*In High School Musical Sharpay, says that she "Doesn't want her musical to be invaded by people who doesn't know the difference between a Tony Award, and Tony Hawk."


ee also

* Drama Desk Awards
* Laurence Olivier Awards
* Obie Awards
* New York Drama Critics' Circle
* Theatre World Award
* Broadway theatre
* Off-Broadway
* Off-off-Broadway
* The Society of London Theatre
* Theatre Pasta Theatre Awards
*List of persons who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards

External links

* [ Official Tony Awards website]
* [ The Broadway League]
* [ playbill article "Broadway Theatre", 7/6/07]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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