The new rule states, "A play or musical that is determined by the Tony Awards Administration Committee (in its sole discretion) to be a 'classic' or in the historical or popular repertoire shall not be eligible for an Award in the Best Play or Best Musical Category but may be eligible in that appropriate Best Revival category."
Keith Sherman, a spokesman for the Tony Awards, confirmed the new rule, adding, "This language is included in a document for the new rules which was mailed this week to producers, managers, publicists, ad agencies, League members, Wing members, et cetera . . . Ultimately, all of these determinations are up to the Tony Administration Committee, but here, the guidelines for their determinations have been further specified."
Productions that might fall into this "Classics" category include:
• Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, the hit Terrence McNally play at the Belasco Theatre, which had previous lives Off-Broadway and on screen, though the current version with Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci marks the play's Broadway premiere.
• The upcoming production of La Boheme, a new version of the classic Puccini opera staged by "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann that begins previews at the Broadway Theatre on Nov. 26.
• Flower Drum Song, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that features an all-new book by David Henry Hwang, which is being billed as "a new musical," although it played on Broadway in 1958 and later on the silver screen
• Little Shop of Horrors, which will make its Broadway premiere in July after a lengthy run Off-Broadway in the 1980s and a film version.
The new rule may be a result of last season's controversy surrounding the nomination of Ivan Turgenev's Fortune's Fool in the Best Play category. Though the work is over 100 years old, it was the play's Broadway debut, so it was deemed eligible for the Best Play prize. Featuring a new adaptation by Mike Poulton, the play lost the Tony to Edward Albee's The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?
Another old play recently allowed to complete in the best new play category was Indiscretions, a 1938 Jean Cocteau work originally called Les Parents Terribles which received its Broadway debut in 1995.
For more information about the Tony Awards, go to www.tonys.org.
—By Andrew Gans
and Robert Simonson