The first show of the 2017-2018 Broadway season has sparked the first Tony head-scratcher of the season, seven months before the CBS telecast of the awards.
On Thursday, the Tony Awards Administration Committee announced its first rulings on eligibility for the prized awards and said that 1984, the adaptation of George Orwell’s novel that had some theatergoers fainting during its depiction of torture, would not be eligible for nominations in any category. That means no nominations for the three-member cast of Olivia Wilde, Tom Sturridge and Reed Birney, all of whom earned great notices even from critics who were less enamored of the production itself. Deadline has learned that the decision came as a shock to the cast and others in the company.
“The show did not fulfill all of the eligibility requirements, as outlined by the Tony Rules and Regulations,” according to an announcement from the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, which jointly oversee and produce the awards. Asked which requirements the show failed to meet, Shawn Purdy, a spokeswoman for Tony Awards Productions, replied, “No further comment is available.” Messages requesting clarification for the decision, which were left for Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin, were not immediately returned.
1984 began previews May 18 at the Hudson Theatre. It opened June 22 and closed October 8 after 125 performances. The producing team included several of Broadway’s top players, lead by Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin, and including John Gore, Colin Callender and Anita Waxman – experienced producers all well-versed in the rules governing Tony eligibility. Telephone messages left for several of them were unreturned Thursday evening.
The essential requirements for Tony eligibility are that a show run in a designated Broadway house and that tickets are provided gratis to every member of the Administration Committee and the Tony Nominating Committee. 1984 ran more than enough performances to accommodate the two committees, whose members were invited.
However, a person with knowledge of the Administration Committee meeting, who spoke with Deadline anonymously because permission to discuss the meeting had not been authorized, said that a dispute had arisen concerning one of the 51 nominators, who had not seen the production, thus technically making the show ineligible. Deadline has not been able to confirm from either St. Martin or Theatre Wing president Heather A. Hitchens whether that was the sole reason the entire production was deemed ineligible.
The Administration Committee will meet a total of four times throughout the 2017-2018 season to decide the eligibility for the 72nd Annual Tony Awards. In addition to 1984, the productions discussed at this first meeting were Marvin’s Room, The Terms of My Surrender, Prince of Broadway, and Time and the Conways.
Celia Weston will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for her performance in Marvin’s Room.
For Prince of Broadway, David Thompson will be considered eligible for Best Book of a Musical and Beowulf Boritt will be considered eligible for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. William Ivey Long will be considered eligible for Best Costume Design of a Musical.
For The Terms of My Surrender, David Rockwell and Andrew Lazarow will be considered jointly eligible in the Best Scenic Design of a Play.
For Time and the Conways. Steven Boyer, Anna Camp, Gabriel Ebert, Charlotte Parry and Matthew James Thomas will be considered eligible for Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.