Actors’ Equity Pushes for Ensemble Categories at the Tony Awards

Tony Awards   Actors’ Equity Pushes for Ensemble Categories at the Tony Awards
AEA has launched a campaign to incorporate two categories that recognize chorus members.
2016 Tony Awards HR09.jpg
Actor and actress nominees with host James Corden at the 2016 Tony Awards Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

A national campaign launched by Actors’ Equity Association aims to put ensembles and chorus members in the spotlight on Broadway’s biggest night. The performers’ union has sent a formal request to the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League to consider adding two categories to the Tony Awards beginning in the 2018–2019 season.

Kate Shindle
Kate Shindle Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The proposed Best Chorus in a Musical or Play category would celebrate singers/dancers in often unnamed tracks, while Best Ensemble in a Musical or Play would go to the collective cast, from leads to featured performers to the chorus.

The campaign, titled Everyone On Stage, began April 11 with an online petition addressed to both the League and Wing.

“Today, the Equity members who work in the chorus and ensemble are often expected to be able to do it all: act, sing, dance, even play one or more instruments," Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity, said in a statement. "It’s not an exaggeration to say that the ensemble is frequently the hardest-working group on the stage. These new Tony categories would help ensure that every one of the performers who appear on stage can have their talent and efforts recognized.”

The Tony Awards Administration Committee has added—and removed—categories in years past. The Best Sound Design of a Play and Musical categories, first awarded in 2008, was eliminated in 2014. Following a review of voting processes, the two categories have been reinstated for the current season and will be voted on by a select subset of voters based on their trade. A category for replacement performers (Best Actor or Actress in a Recreated Role) was established in 2005, but was abandoned that season after no eligible contender managed to receive the necessary votes from the Administration Committee.

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