What is it that the Tony, Pulitzer, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics Circle, OBIE, Drama League and Lucille Lortel Awards don't do? For all their various rules and fiefdoms, none of these organizational awards recognize national touring shows. Enter the League of American Theatres and Producers, which, with the American Theatre Wing, already produces the Broadway-only Tonys. Reportedly, the League plans to start "The National Broadway Theatre Awards," which will honor eligible Broadway touring shows. Unlike the Tonys (and, in fact, all the other awards mentioned above), however, the NBTA winners will be chosen by audience vote, rather than by critics and theatre insiders.
According to Variety, which is sponsoring the Awards, the vote is done via snail-mail ballot or the internet, at www.nationalbroadwayawards.com. (That web site is not yet operational and currently has only the phrase "National Broadway Theatre Awards" posted, sans links or explanation.) Winners will reportedly be announced May 21.
— By David Lefkowitz