I've long resigned myself to the Tony orchestration award being given pre-broadcast along with the other design awards. In fact, I wish the design awards were given the night before at a nice dinner - no broadcast, no commercials - no performances even. Just a bunch of theater professionals getting to hang out, have a few drinks and tell some production stories. And of course, having the time to restore the Sound Design award and the long, long forgotten Music Director award.
Imagine my surprise this year to see the musical writing awards (won by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori) presented pre-broadcast. Have we so devalued the worth and contribution of writing (and composing) in the arts, that we relegate it to being a technical skill? Are we so hooked on celebrity as the only thing to sell on this night, that the less familiar names of authors are not worth honoring? Has this night become solely a vehicle for advertising Broadway?
If that's the case, it might be wise to separate the function of industry honors from that of industry publicity. Let's have the Tonys create a "Broadway Presents" night for CBS where musicals (including the older shows) all get to perform a number - pile on the celebrities, add backstage glimpses, interview writers ... creatively show the world the actual theater we all work on. I've seen much more interesting television on the various opening night PR events that individual shows have put together for broadcast or social media.
Let's have a second night of "Broadway Presents" on PBS, where the plays get to perform 15 minute excerpts, and authors and directors get to talk about their work. The Tonys keep waffling between 90 second excerpts from plays or not showing anything at all. Let's give people a real taste of the great writing that is on the stage.
Then let's present the awards at a dinner separate from these events. Stream it online for those who want to see acceptance speeches.
These may or may not be ridiculous ideas. But right now the evening seems to be doing neither of it's purposes - honoring the artistry of theater professionals and publicizing their work to the world - both of these aims are worthwhile and important. But can they really happen on the same evening?