Although the Broadway season is kicking into high gear in the weeks ahead with a slew of shows opening, the Tonys have yet to secure a site for their annual awardsfest in June. Radio City Music Hall — their home since 1997 — is unavailable because of a summer-long stint by Cirque du Soleil.
Among the other Gotham venues that could host the kudos: the Roseland Ballroom (1,800 seats) and the Best Buy Theater (2,100 seats) in the Broadway district; the Beacon Theater (2,800 seats) on the Upper West Side; the United Palace (3,400 seats) way uptown in Washington Heights; and the Park Avenue Armory (55,000 square feet) on the East Side. By comparison, Radio City seats 5,900.
The lack of a venue has already had an impact on the awards calendar. The end of the eligibility period remains in doubt because the date for the Tonys will be determined by the eventual locale. Traditionally, there is much jockeying for position in the last days of the season, with producers hoping that opening their shows late will keep them fresh in the minds of the members of the nominating committee.
Ace AP reporter Mark Kennedy interviewed the heads of the two organizations that present these prizes. Said Howard Sherman, executive director of the philanthropic American Theater Wing, "Some of the larger venues are not theaters; they're really concert halls. So they may be lovely in terms of their appearance and their seating, but they're not theaters. They don't have fly spaces, they don't have traps under the floor, they don't have wings to move scenery on and off."
Agrees Charlotte Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, "We have to be able to present a show that resembles in style our last shows, which means we need a legitimate stage with the ability to have sets and lighting that appears great on TV. Because, after all, it is a TV show."
Over the years, the kudocast has done well with both the critics and the Emmys. At the most recent edition of TV's top honors, the 2009 Tonycast won in the special class category. Just days before the Creative Arts Emmys, our eagle-eyed forum moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum caught the omission of Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris from the list of nominees. Gold Derby brought this to the attention of the TV academy, and Harris went on to share in the win. Gracious guy that he is, he included a shout-out to "Boomer" in his acceptance speech and backstage.
Photo: 2010 Tony Awards set at Radio City Music Hall. Credit: CBS.