Strange facts about the “Academy Awards” of Broadway, which just announced its 2014 nominees.
- Today, the Tony Awards resemble other entertainment industry awards: host, stage, “the nominees are…,” trophy presentation, etc. In the first two years the Tonys were presented in 1947 and 1948, the ceremony began with a 9 p.m. dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed by dancing. Anyone could attend (it cost $7 for a ticket), and the winners were simply announced at midnight. Winners didn’t even get a trophy: they got a scroll, a money clip, and a cigarette lighter (for the men) or a compact (for the women).
- Most nominated production in Tony history: The Producers, which earned 15 nominations in 2011. It won 12 of 15, and in every category for which it was nominated—the show had two nominees in Lead Actor in a Musical and three in Featured Actor in a Musical.
- A major trend in Broadway musicals over the last decade or so: shows based on popular movies. The 2012 Tonys were a landmark year for that trend, as all four Best Musical nominees were previously films: Kinky Boots, Bring It On, A Christmas Story, and Matilda.
- Two pop music one-hit-wonders later won Tony Awards. In 1986, Rupert Holmes (“Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”) won Best Musical having written The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In 2007, Best Musical went to Duncan Sheik (“Barely Breathing”) for Spring Awakening.
- In the 1950s, Broadway was a fixture on TV—production numbers from musicals fit well into variety shows, and the TV industry was based in New York. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the eighth annual Tony Awards in 1954 when they were broadcast. (Although in 1957, 1958, and 1966, they weren’t televised at all.)
- Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is arguably the most famous American play. It’s certainly the most honored at the Tony Awards. It won for Best Play in 1949…and Best Revival in 1984…and Best Revival in 1999…and Best Revival in 2012.
- One of the weirdest Tony Awards happened in 1960. 1) Two musicals tied for Best Musical for the only time (Fiorello! and The Sound of Music), and 2) A nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical was split among the seven child actors—five girls and two boys—who played the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music.