At a meeting on May 24, the Tony Awards Administrative Committee voted to create a new award category, entitled "Special Theatrical Event." The new heading is meant to encompass shows which do not easily fit into the best play, musical and revival categories.
"With many new forms of entertainment being produced on Broadway, the Committee felt the current categories were not sufficient to address the changes we are seeing in the theatre," said Roy A. Somlyo, president of the American Theatre Wing -- which co-produces the Tony broadcast with the League of American Theatres and Producers -- in a statement.
"This new approach allows apples to be compared with apples," added Jed Bernstein, president of the League. "Shows that have a non-traditional aesthetic can now be evaluated in an appropriate manner."
As usual with the Tonys, the 2000 nominating process inspired many arguments within the theatre community as to which shows should be included in which categories. The most heated arguments surrounded Contact, which was deemed a new musical, though it does not possess an original score or one singing cast member. In other debate-engendering categorizations, the dance revue Riverdance -- On Broadway was called a musical, and Squonk was declared ineligible as play or musical.
Additionally, the Tonys have for many years wrestled with the problem of how to treat such one-person entertainments as Dame Edna -- The Royal Tour and Jackie Mason's many evenings of stand-up material. Typically, the show is awarded a special Tony, as Dame Edna was this year. Conceivably, the introduction of the "Special Theatrical Event" category could, in 2001, see shows as different as Dame Edna, Contact and Riverdance competing with one another.
In other news, the Tony Administration Committee admitted Studio 54 as an eligible Broadway theatre. The number of Tony houses thus rises to 38.
The Tony broadcast will take place on June 4.
--By Robert Simonson