Unmasking Tony voters

Participants span legit spectrum

How many Tony voters does it take to determine a winner? Like the Oscars, the answer is a mystery. Unlike the Oscars or the Emmys, Tony voters don’t all fall under an umbrella organization like the film and TV academies.

One thing is for sure: There are 705 people this year whose vote will influence who wins June 3, and a smaller number who determine nominees. The total number of voters varies each season, depending on the membership of the voting organizations. But the question remains: “Who is Tony and how does he or she vote?”

Voters are a mixed bag from various disciplines, ranging from actors to directors to producers to choreographers to set designers, among others. While Oscar and Emmy voters are bicoastal and are global in scope, Tony’s is very much of a New York story.

The voter breakdown is as follows: a handful of members of the governing boards of the Dramatists Guild, United Scenic Artists, the Actors’ Equity Assn. and Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers; up to 45 members from the board of directors of the American Theatre Wing, and some voting members of the League of American Theaters and Producers; no more than 15 members of the governing board of the Assn. of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers; and no more than 15 members of the Casting Society.

Voters should always expect their ballots at least 14 days prior to the awards ceremony. Completed ballots, which must be certified, are then sent to accounting firm Lutz and Carr. Tallies are counted at least 52 hours prior to the Tonys.

Before there are winners though, there are nominees. Contenders in the 21 competitive categories are determined by an independent committee of theater professionals, culled from the same organizations that choose the winners. The group is appointed by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. According to the American Theatre Wing’s bylaws, no fewer than 15 people and no more than 30 may comprise the nominating committee.

This year’s nominating crew of 25 included a bevy of designers, publishers, lyricists, producers, casting directors, historians, writers, thesps, general managers, execs, publicists, and photographers, among others.

The nominating committee was asked to consider all legitimate productions opening, in any of 40 eligible Broadway theaters, during the 2000-01 season, which began May 4, 2000, and wrapped May 2 of this year.

In order for a show, thesp, producer, etc., to be eligible for a nomination, five requirements must be satisfied, according to the Tony Awards Administration Committee, which oversees all eligibility factors. The rules and regulations state that the show in consideration must: be a legitimate theatrical production; have officially opened during the period of eligibility; be housed in one of 40 eligible theaters, which require a seating capacity of 500 or more; have its producer invite voters in a timely manner; have the producer certify that the aforementioned prerequisites have been satisfied.