Beginning with the 51st annual awards in June, producers, when filling out the traditional certification that they have complied with all Tony rules, must acknowledge that they accept the committee’s authority.
Merrick, a producer of the “State Fair” revival last season, sued the committee after only four songs of the 15-song score were deemed eligible for Tony consideration (11 were ruled out for having been written for the 1945 film). The suit was dismissed.
The new rule was one of several announced Oct. 8 by the committee. Last season’s Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” also spawned some new ink: The committee passed a rule allowing new Broadway productions to be Tony-eligible if the shows had previously been produced in Manhattan but were not Tony eligible at the time.
“Buried Child,” first presented Off Broadway in 1978, was deemed a new play for last season’s Tonys, drawing criticism from various quarters. The new rule supports the committee’s ruling.
The committee also raised the number of eligible Broadway theaters to 36 (from 35), by recognizing the Walt Disney Co.’s New Amsterdam Theater. A three-year term for nominators has also been set, with one-third of the committee to change annually; and a two-hour limit was placed on the open discussion session of the nominating committee prior to secret balloting.