NEW YORK — Small world, isn’t it?
No, this is not yet another item on Bernadette Peters’ attendance rate at “Gypsy.” In the race to the Tonys, very few people pull the strings behind the campaigns that seek to bring home the gold. The same marketing and PR firms are often handling competing shows.
This year, Serino Coyne is the marketing firm for all four nominees for best musical, including the shuttered “Amour.” (That one won’t be mounting a major campaign.) Spotco masterminds the campaigns for three of the four musical revival nominees, with Eliran-Murphy taking the fourth, “Nine.”
Barlow-Hartman publicizes “Movin’ Out” and “Frog and Toad,” both up for best musical, while Boneau/Bryan-Brown handles what could be a photo-finish race between the tuner revivals “Gypsy,” “La Boheme” and “Nine.”
And they say Harvey Weinstein had trouble dividing his marketing attentions between “Chicago” and “Gangs of New York.”
In the much smaller world of Broadway, double, triple and even quadruple binds are more the rule than the exception. Clients are used to it.
“In our 25 years, I’ve lost only one (client) show because of the competition,” says Nancy Coyne. “They were afraid I was giving too much attention to another nominee.”
Hopefully, clients tend to see the bigger picture. “It isn’t about the Tonys — this goes on all year,” says Spotco’s Drew Hodges. “You’re always branding: why this thing isn’t like that thing in the same market.”
Competition, however, has made some Tony contests feistier than others.
Like when “The Lion King,” repped by Serino Coyne,” beat out “Ragtime,” repped by Jon Wilner’s now-defunct firm. “I was fired up for that one,” Coyne says.
There was also “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” (Spotco) topping “Topdog/Underdog” (Serino Coyne) last year. “It was a yearlong battle to validate a difficult piece by one of our great writers,” Hodges says of Edward Albee’s drama. “It was nice to get the capper.”
How much the Tonys — or any other legit honor, for that matter — mean to a show’s commercial success remains open for debate. This month, “Take Me Out” grabbed every available best-play award, plus a few Tony noms, yet its B.O. last week rose only $26,057, to $212,701. Meanwhile, “Life (x) 3,” got virtually shut out (with the exception of a few Linda Emond nods), and its receipts jumped $32,309 last week, to $311,468. Go figure.