Why The Tonys Need The Best Ensemble Award


We knew this every time we opened our programs to find those little slips of paper saying which backup has tested positive for coronavirus for which actors. We’re familiar with the uh-oh reflex these warnings evoke – every time we give a great substitute a chance, an instinctive assumption turns out to be wrong. We also met with the relief we felt when we opened our programs in order not to find an alternative.

Actors, each actor is a delicate organism that changes the chemistry of the whole. But what a fascinating theater a company can create when all its pieces work in harmony – with the group drawing as needed from each member’s art, including those who fill in refills most nights.

WHEN THE SHOW if it wins the award for best play or musical or best animation, glory goes to the writers – and perhaps even more to the producers who filled the stage. These categories are not really about the players. If players win a prize, it’s for a star spin.

Yet not every piece is made for them – “SixFor example, eight Tony nominations, among them best musical, are not included in the acting categories. The show’s arrogance as a singing competition seems to spur moves for the spotlight. But “Six” is also a concert, and it is proven to be successful when its best actors work together, that is, work together.

When I first saw it in London before it came to Broadway, it was only later that I realized that two alternatives were open, one of which was particularly strong. But the entire cast was impressive. It was impossible for me to pick a favorite – because the classic ensemble piece “Six” doesn’t really want its artists to overshadow each other.

Still, I’m not arguing for an award limited to community shows or honoring just supporting actors, which is another definition of community. What is needed is an award for the entire cast of any Broadway play or musical of any kind.

This is not an unprecedented idea. The Drama Desk Awards recognize an outstanding ensemble: “Six” this year. As Theater Twitter likes to point out, the Screen Actors Guild Awards also have community categories – however suitability to be included on a contractual and billing basis. Tony’s can be more inclusive than that.



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