Determining Tony Award nominees and winners

Because the Tony Awards seek to honor and encourage excellence in the theater industry and the advancement of its arts, the American Theater Wing has had to develop an eligibility policy and voting process that serves those purposes.

Hence, based on the idea that considering the more frequently produced plays and musicals for the most coveted Tony Awards would give an unfair advantage – as they would have benefited from more development time and more familiarity with voters than newer or less frequently produced ones Plays and Musicals – in order to be eligible for a Tony Award it has been stipulated that the Administrative Committee must determine that a play or musical is one which:

• has never appeared on Broadway

• has not yet been designated a classic

• not considered part of historical or popular repertoire

Eligible plays include those recently transferred to Broadway from Off-Broadway or the West End, and plays based on films. Occasionally, the Management Committee’s decisions are controversial, as shows found ineligible in the new categories cannot give their writers a chance to win the coveted awards for Best Play, Best Musical, Best Score or Best Book .

To be considered a Broadway theater, the theater must seat at least 500 people and be located within or near New York’s Time Square location. The Tony Awards Administrative Committee makes the final decision regarding the eligibility of each theater.

The Administrative Committee, which is responsible for determining eligibility for each nomination, as well as performing other duties, consists of a total of twenty-four members:

• Ten from the American Theater Wing

• Ten from the Broadway League

• One of the Dramatists’ Guild

• One from the Actors’ Equity Association

• One of United Scenic Artists

• One from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

The nominating committee, which determines who is nominated in each category, consists of a rotating group of theater professionals, each selected by the administrative committee, serve three-year terms, and are required to see every new Broadway production during their time on the committee and then meet after the deadline for Tony’s eligibility to vote on this year’s nominations.

In 1947, when the Tonys began, the American Theater Wing determined that members of its board of directors, as well as members of the management and entertainment unions, would be among those eligible to vote. In 1954, eligibility was expanded to include theater professionals who were not members of the American Theater Wing, and it has continued to expand since then. Today, the 700+ Tony Awards voters are made up of:

• the Board of Directors of the American Theater Wing

• the American Theater Wing Advisory Board

• voting members of the Broadway League

• Members of the Theatrical Council of the Casting Society of America

• Board Members of the Actors’ Equity Association

• Board Members of the Dramatists Guild

• Board Members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

• Board Members of United Scenic Artists

• Board Members of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers

The nomination and voting process is overseen by Lutz & Carr, an accounting firm known for handling various crystal award ceremonies. They are keeping the results completely secret until they are announced at the televised ceremony.

Because only plays and musicals from one of only 40 major Broadway theaters can be nominated, as decided by the Tony Awards’ Management Committee, and only a fraction of the plays at those venues can be considered new each season, the awards see the criticized Tony’s as a promotional event for just some of New York’s biggest producers and theater owners. Because there are 27 award categories and only a few eligible plays to choose from, most shows deemed new by the committee must receive at least one nomination.