This 12 months’s Tony Awards are marked by Covid and a well-worn Broadway enterprise technique

Time Square, New York, April 8, 2016, Times Square is a significant landmark of New York, brightly adorned with billboards and commercials.

William Rodrigues dos Santos

Had this been a traditional 12 months, the Tony Awards would have occurred in June and Broadway can be gearing up for its profitable vacation season. Instead, the Great White Way is anticipated to remain shuttered until at least May 30, 2021, and its annual award ceremony can be hosted someday earlier than the tip of the 12 months.

The coronavirus pandemic prematurely ended the 2019-2020 Broadway season, limiting the variety of eligible nominees and eliminating the 2020-2021 season entirely. This led classes like finest revival and finest unique rating to haven’t any nominations for the Tonys and the very best actor in a number one position class to solely have one nominee.

“If the pandemic had come two weeks later, we might have seen a completely totally different Tonys,” stated Derek Miller, a theater professor at Harvard University.

Setting the stage

The Tonys aren’t only a time for Broadway at hand out awards and rejoice the earlier season of exhibits. The ceremony has turn into a large a part of the trade’s promoting and has influenced how and when producers launch their exhibits.

“The Tonys have turn into so vital that exhibits are actually frontloaded in a season so that they open proper earlier than the awards,” stated Miller. “So an enormous variety of Broadway exhibits open in late March and early April.”

Producers need their exhibits to debut proper earlier than the Tonys in order that performances are recent in voters’ minds and to make sure that much less of their cash is in danger. With this technique, a present that debuts in March is just open for round two months earlier than discovering out if it should get a lift from a Tony nomination.

But this 12 months, the pandemic prompted closures proper as issues had been gearing up. Initially, exhibits wanted to open by April 23 to be nominated for the 2020 awards. However, after closures had been introduced, the date was amended to Feb. 19.

“This timing turned out to be horrible with the onset of the pandemic within the United States as a result of it meant that theaters shut down proper on the level the place the final surge of exhibits set to open,” stated Miller.

“Six,” “Hangmen,” “Company,” “The Lehman Trilogy,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Sing Street” and “How I Learned to Drive” had been gearing up for his or her debut, however by no means did.

Had the pandemic hit later within the spring, these exhibits would have opened and there would have been a bigger slate of performs and musicals for the annual award present.

Of course, there are exceptions to this technique. “Moulin Rouge,” which was nominated for a handful of Tony Awards this 12 months — together with the only real nominee for finest actor in a musical — opened in July 2019, practically a full 12 months earlier than the 2020 awards had been set to happen.

“Tina,” additionally up for finest musical, opened in November and “Jagged Little Pill” debuted in December.

“Our Broadway group has been extremely resilient throughout this troublesome time, and we sit up for paying tribute to the performers and artists,” stated Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, in a joint assertion in October.

The energy of a Tony

Just being nominated for a Tony Award brings consideration to a present and can assist enhance ticket gross sales. Winning, nonetheless, is the place the true advertising and marketing energy lies.

In June 2018, “The Band’s Visit” swept the highest classes on the Tonys, taking dwelling prizes for finest musical, finest ebook, finest rating, finest actor in a musical, finest actress in a musical and finest route of a musical.

In the week following these wins, the present hauled in $1.1 million in ticket gross sales. The final time the musical hit the $1 million gross sales mark for one week of gross sales was the primary week of January 2018.

The 2019 finest musical winner “Hadestown” had been enjoying to offered out crowds even earlier than hitting it large on the Tonys. In complete, the present took dwelling eight prizes and continued to promote out tickets till it was compelled to shutter in March of this 12 months. At that point, “Hadestown” was averaging $1.2 million in ticket gross sales every week.

For Tony winners this 12 months, the award can be about status and the opportunity of monetary acquire for particular person performers, administrators and writers. Those that take dwelling the prize might use it as a approach to leverage future pay raises or greater value tags for future initiatives. But, the wins are unlikely to do something for the exhibits themselves.

Miller does not anticipate Broadway’s technique to alter as soon as the pandemic is underneath management. He foresees producers returning to this formulation due to how profitable it may be.

“People will, and albeit rightfully, see this as an especially uncommon occasion to have hit at precisely that proper second,” stated Miller.

Correction: This story was up to date to replicate that the Tony Awards ceremony can be hosted earlier than the tip of the 12 months. A earlier model misstated the timing.

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