Smaller venue makes ceremony tickets harder to get

The Tony Awards just got a lot more exclusive.

The annual ceremony’s shift this season from Radio City Musical Hall to the Upper West Side’s Beacon Theater will greatly reduce the number of people who can attend the legit industry’s top kudofest: Radio City seats 6,000, the Beacon about half as many.

For one thing, that means the number of tickets offered to the general public will be severely cut. Other ticket allotments may be trimmed as well, although exact decisions have yet to be made.

“Yes, fewer people will be able to see the Tony Awards in person next year,” said Howard Sherman, exec director of the American Theater Wing, one of the producers of the Tony Awards.

CBS, longtime TV home of the Tonys, will broadcast the ceremony live from the Beacon on June 12. Official Tony eligibility cutoff has been pegged at April 28.

The venue change has been expected ever since it became known that Radio City would be occupied, beginning in early June, by “Zarkana,” the latest Gotham outing for Cirque du Soleil.

Very few venues in New York City have the hefty seating capacity of Radio City, where the Tonys were first held in 1996. Options were explored all over Manhattan (including much farther uptown than the Beacon), in other boroughs and in nonpermanent structures.

Crucial to the decision was not only the venue’s size but its ability, in terms of both scale and technological capabilities, to host a nationally televised awards show. The Beacon has seen a number of performances taped or broadcast live from its stage.

Recently renovated venue’s relative proximity to the theater district also counted in the Beacon’s favor, since Broadway performers must shuttle between ongoing Main Stem shows and rehearsals for the ceremony.

Stage is smaller than the one at Radio City, a difference for which telecast producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner are now planning.

The duo, of White Cherry Entertainment, have exec produced the kudocast multiple times. The 2009 outing, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, scored two Emmys earlier this year.

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