NEW YORK The annual rite of reconstituting the Tony nominating committee is under way. In the wake of a season that saw considerable abuse heaped on the nominators – not all of it justified – four committee members resigned and one was not asked back. The ones who quit (for various reasons) were lyricist Betty Comden, former Rockefeller Foundation executive Suzanne Sato, actor Earl Hyman and teacher Sister Francesca Thompson; director and teacher Robert Lewis was not asked back.
Invited to replace them were Sam Freedman, who reported on Broadway before leaving the New York Times to write books; actor Barnard Hughes; actress and Circle Repertory Company co-artistic director Lynne Thigpen; and playwrights Jon Robin Baitz and Christopher Durang. Freedman, contacted last week, didn’t even know he was going to be asked, and said he didn’t have time this year, so it’s back to the drawing board for at least one slot.
The Tony administrators also approached Robert Marx about joining the committee. Marx declined, saying he felt it would be inappropriate for two people from the same institution to be on the committee. (Marx is executive director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; Betty Corwin, who runs the library’s Theater on Film and Tape archives, is a veteran member of the committee.) Marx did, however, offer to help address issues involving the larger Tony process, and the administrators would be well advised to accept that offer.
Remaining on the committee along with Corwin are costume designer Donald Brooks, choreographer Marge Champion, composer Gretchen Cryer, administrator Thomas Dillon, ex-New Yorker theater critic Brendan Gill, TheaterWorks artistic director Jay Harnick, producer Charles Hollerith, general manager Robert Kamlot, set designer Ming Cho Lee, stage hands union veteran Robert McDonald, ex-Daily News critic Douglas Watt and O’Neill Theater Center head and bon vivant George White.