Producers of the Tonys, according to the New York Post, decided to invite both Legally Blonde and LoveMusik — two new musicals that had not been nominated in the Best Musical category — to perform during the June 10 ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. However, by the morning of Tuesday, May 22, the offer — which had been approved by American Theater Wing executive director Howard Sherman — had been withdrawn.
The New York daily says that producers of the musicals that have been nominated in the Best Musical category — including Curtains, Grey Gardens, Mary Poppins and Spring Awakening — were upset that the Tony producers were changing the rules and felt that allowing other musicals to perform might deprive their shows of airtime.
A group of producers who are part of the Tony management committee — including Barry Weissler, Margo Lion, Tom Viertel and Paul Libin — also sided with the producers of the four nominated shows. They believe that allowing musicals not nominated for a Tony to perform would open the doors for every show, nominated or not, to demand some sort of airtime.
The Wing's Sherman — who, with League executive director Charlotte St. Martin spoke to Playbill.com May 23 via a conference call — said, "What's important to understand is that [the May 21 Tony management committee] meeting was an opportunity for the organizations [the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing] together to consider the issue of whether we could open up the broadcast to performances beyond the eight nominated best musicals and musical revivals. . . . Ultimately, after a great deal of discussion, which we are not going to characterize or comment upon, the decision was made by the committee not to go forward with the idea that we might include full numbers from shows which were not nominated for Best Musical or Best Musical Revival."
Unsurprisingly, producers of Legally Blonde and LoveMusik are dismayed by the withdrawal of the offer to perform on the Tony telecast. In fact, Marty Bell, a co-producer of LoveMusik, told the Post, "I feel like the Tony nominating committee kicked me in the teeth and, while I was trying to get up, the Tony management committee kicked me, too." It should be noted that although recent Tony telecasts have not broadcast performances from shows that didn't receive a nomination, there is no rule against the practice. In fact, the 1996 Tony Awards featured a shortened number from State Fair, which did not receive a Best Musical nomination.
As previously announced, the 61st Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards — saluting the best of the Broadway theatre season — will be presented June 10 at Radio City Music Hall.
The Tony Awards are presented by Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing. Visit www.tonyawards.com for more information.