The Tonys hit a new low somewhere near the bottom of the ocean.
By Ryan Bogner (Producer, Wingnut)
So if you were one of the people that watched the Tonys this year you know that this happened:
But in the likely chance that you weren't (due to the broadcast hitting the lowest number of viewers since the late 80s) I'll answer the question that's raging through your brain right now. Yes, that's Harvey Fierstein in an innertube and board shorts and YES. That is in fact a cruise ship production of an almost 10 year old musical, performing at the Tony Awards.
Despite this statement from this article by the head of the Broadway league:
“Just like the Tony Awards, Royal Caribbean is committed to bringing Broadway to new audiences around the world. We are thrilled with this new partnership, which is a natural extension of Royal Caribbean’s strong commitment to engaging entertainment,” said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director, The Broadway League and Heather Hitchens, Executive Director, the American Theatre Wing, in a statement.
Its pretty clear that the decision was based around a lucrative sponsorship deal with Royal Carrebean.
I'm amazed by the sheer ludiocrity (new word: ludicrous+idiocy) of the chairman of the Broadway league equating the Tony Awards with a Cruise Line company in its role of bringing Broadway to new audiences.
I'm surprised I have to do it, but since Ms. Martin seems a bit confused as to what Broadway actually is let's be clear about its definition.
Broadway is not musical theater. Broadway Theater is not any production of a piece of theater that once had a production play on Broadway. Broadway is the theater that happens in 40 theaters over 500 seats in midtown New York City by professional artists at the top of their game. That's it. Yeah that's a production of a musical that once was on Broadway but it (by definition) is in no way shape or form Broadway Theater.
I've talked in the past about how the Tonys don't do themselves any favor by trying to act popular when they just aren't. These kinds of publicity stunts and cash grabs do nothing to expand our audience. (As evidenced by the low viewing numbers this year). The only way we can expect people to take Broadway seriously is if we as a community take ourselves seriously.
You're not going to see the Academy Awards cut to the local movie theater to check in on a screening of a film from a decade ago is what I'm saying.
RYAN BOGNER is a New York based Theater Producer. He has produced Yeast Nation, Hurricane, Hater and Hey, You Know What Movie Would Make a Good Musical? among others, and is working towards an MFA in Theater Management and Producing at Columbia University. www.heyyouknowwhatproductions.com