The Tony Awards are happening Sunday night, people! Who’s excited? Pretty much nobody, right? No surprise there, especially considering that a phenomenal show like Passing Strange has been playing to half-full houses. But what’s really ridiculous is that even the people who are tasked with voting for the Tony winners can’t be bothered to sit through these shows!
As Jeremy Gerard reports on Bloomberg.com, a spectacular number of the 797 voters will cast votes without seeing all the shows in competition, in violation of rules that aren’t enforced. Laurence Fishburne, for instance, is up for a Tony for best performance by a leading actor in Thurgood. But less than 40 percent of the 797 voters have seen the play, according to a member of the show's production team. And that riveting revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming that’s up for a Tony? Less than 400 voters saw it.
These people are supposedly the ones most invested in the state of Broadway: producers, press members and union representatives. But the Broadway League, which co-produces the Tonys, does nothing to stop these voters from casting ballots without seeing all the shows, and most of them freely admit to doing just that.
Of course, nobody’s world view will be irrevocably shattered when the Tony Awards are exposed as little more than a farcically-run advertising campaign. But the really outrageous part of all this is that there are plenty of informed people in the theater community, starting here, who would love nothing more than to see all these shows for free. And if Passing Strange doesn’t win best musical, at least we know who to blame: The voters who didn't see it.