The League of American Theatres and Producers will present the first annual "National Broadway Theatre Awards" — informally nicknamed "The Star Awards" — which honor eligible Broadway touring shows, on May 21 at a ceremony at The Supper Club in New York City. Unlike the Tonys (and, in fact, almost all other theatre awards), the NBTA winners are chosen by audience vote, rather than by critics and theatre insiders. The winners were announced on May 11.
The vote was done via snail-mail ballot or the internet, at www.nationalbroadwayawards.com. Potential voters filled out a registration form and were then sent a ballot tailored to their location. According to an award spokesperson, for a show to be eligible for consideration, the producer must officially submit the show and pay an entrance fee. Categories were not limited to a set number of nominees; for instance, the best musical category boasted a whopping 26 candidates, including new musicals such as Ragtime and revivals of classic ones such as Fiddler on the Roof.
According to a press release, "Ballots were analyzed and the results were weighted based on the total number of voters in each market and the percentage of votes for each nominee. 30 Broadway shows touring during the 2000-2001 season were eligible to participate in this first NBTA. Nearly 15,000 theatre-lovers registered to vote either on line or via mail in ballots provided by Variety and distributed in theatres around the country."
The unusual manner in which shows were nominated and winners were selected for the NBTA resulted in some surprising victors. The late Bob Fosse won for best choreography for Fosse, a revue retrospective of his work. And the best score prize went to Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil for Les Misérables, a musical which has been around for over 15 years and has been playing on Broadway for almost as long. The duo beat out such distinguished, albeit departed composers, as Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (for Show Boat), Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers (for The Sound of Music) and Irving Berlin (for Annie Get Your Gun).
Similarly, the recent Ragtime's "'Til We Reach That Day" was voted best song above such standards as "There's No Business Like Show Business," "All That Jazz," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Ol' Man River." Here are the 2001 National Boadway Theatre Awards Winner:s
RAGTIME - Producer: SFX Theatrical Group
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Author: Barry Humphries. Producers: Leonard Soloway, Chase Mishkin, Steven M. Levy and Jonathan Reinis
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Barry Humphries as "Dame Edna" (Play)
PARADE - David Pittu as "Leo Frank" (Musical)
MAMMA MIA! - Louise Pitre as "Donna Sheridan" (Musical)
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - Sherri Parker Lee (Play)
LES MISÉRABLES - Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg, Lyrics: Alain Boublil, English Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer
FOSSE - Bob Fosse
BEST VISUAL PRESENTATION (Scenic and Lighting Design)
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Scenic Design: Stanley A. Meyer, Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
ANN HOULD-WARD (Disney's "Beauty and the Beast")
—By Robert Simonson