The Playgoer: Tonys Let SOME Critics Vote Again

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tonys Let SOME Critics Vote Again

Cara Joy David reports that the Tony Awards, after booting critics from the voter rolls this year, are now letting in the Drama Critics Circle members--the 20-odd top print critics in town. 

One has to wonder whether that number will make much of a dent in the voting of the otherwise 700-strong non-critical voting pool.

She also gets out of the Broadway League (Tony co-sponsors) yet another reason why they banished the critics in the first place:

"We don't know how the first night press list ever morphed into Tony voting privileges," Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin said.  To hear St. Martin tell it, the press was scrapped because Tony Productions did not want people voting for the Tony Awards who weren't Broadway experts. (This explanation glosses over the fact that the initial justification offered had something to do with "conflicts of interests.") The first night press list includes major theater journalists, but it also includes people who work at The View. "The secretary to the producer of a television show might get on the first night list," St. Martin explained. "We don't have a way of knowing if that person is knowledgeable about theater."
Of course, one might wonder what "theatre knowledge" someone has who just happened to pony up six figures for a show just to get their name above the title as a "producer."  Not to mention the possibility that whatever knowledge for the art one has might just go out the window when the fate of the profits of your show is at stake!

But no, of course, Tony-voting producers and artists vote only with their most objective judgment.  Of course.

All I can think, though, is poor Michael Feingold!  The Village Voice first-stringer was practically cheering back in August over the lifting of the burden to cover all crappy "events" that happen to open on Broadway:
When the news broke that these two organizations, which jointly manage Broadway's annual Tony Awards, had decided to remove the first-night theater press from the ranks of Tony voters, my first action was to e-mail my editor that I wouldn't be reviewing Burn the Floor, Broadway's new ballroom-dance compilation, an Australian import that has been trekking around the world for some years. As a Tony voter, I might have felt obliged to go: The nominations are so eccentric that you never know what may or may not end up on the ballot, and the ballot always specifies that you may not vote in a given category unless you've seen all the nominees. My new non-voter status has liberated me from events like Burn the Floor.
So Michael, I guess condolences are in order.

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