The president of Musicians Local 802, William Moriarity, sent a letter to American Theatre Wing (ATW) president Roy A. Somlyo on April 18 protesting Contact's candidacy for a Tony Award for Best Musical.
A well-received production from director Susan Strohman, Contact is currently running at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center.
Moriarity asserts that Contact is not eligible for a Tony because "there is no original or live music in the play."
Describing Contact as a "dance play" and protesting its eligibility in the "strongest possible terms," Moriarity's letter focused attention on two areas.
"First, no music, vocal or instrumental, has been created for this production," Moriarity's letter stated. "To the best of my knowledge, no work has ever been considered for a [Best Musical] Tony -- an award ostensibly for creative merit -- that contained no creative musical elements. "Second, no newly created musical performance, whether instrumental or vocal, occurs in this production. Dancing, of course, takes place, but in our opinion, that alone is not sufficient to define musical theatre. A musical must contain music as a creative element."
Moriarity's letter went on to acknowledge Contact's critical acclaim and exceptional dance elements, even suggesting that it receive some sort of "special recognition citation," but not a Tony for Best Musical.
ATW's Roy A. Somlyo did not return a call by press time.
-- By Murdoch McBride