Billy Crystal repeatedly referred to it as “a play” at his Broadway debut party on Dec. 5.
The Tony Awards administration committee, however, put his solo show “700 Sundays” in another category, deeming it eligible for an award as a “special theatrical event.” The committee met Wednesday for its second of four sessions to determine nomination eligibility.
Cutoff for nominations is May 4, with the noms announced May 10. The awards ceremony will be held June 5 at Radio City Music Hall.
The prize for special theatrical event, introduced in 2001, has never gained the cachet of those for play or musical. Another big drawback: Shows in the special event category are not eligible in other categories such as actor, director or design.
Last season, the one-person “I Am My Own Wife,” by Doug Wright, won the Tony Award for play. In the eyes of the Tony people, the difference between that work and “700 Sundays” may be that Wright’s work is a biographical play while Crystal’s is a memoir.
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Another stage autobiography, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” won the Tony for special theatrical event in 2002.
The Tony committee’s decision on Crystal leaves several legit feathers unruffled: The one-person shows “Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance” (which just extended through June 4), Eve Ensler’s “The Good Body,” “Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore” and “Whoopi” also have been deemed special theatrical events.
Whoopi Goldberg’s eligibility may raise some eyebrows: Her show is essentially a revival of her 1984 Broadway stint. But rules change. Back then, her act was not considered for noms.
The Tony committee made several other noncontroversial choices.
The 1954 teleplay “Twelve Angry Men” was deemed a revival, even though its current Roundabout production marks its Broadway debut. It is joined in the play revival category by Craig Lucas’ “Reckless,” previously produced Off Broadway but never on Broadway before this season.
The committee placed several actors in categories for consideration.
Mary-Louise Parker (“Reckless”) and Philip Bosco and Boyd Gaines (both from “Twelve Angry Men”) will be considered in the lead actor categories. Robert Prosky and Michael Cumpsty (“Democracy”) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson and LisaGay Hamilton (“Gem of the Ocean”) go into the featured actor categories.
A committee statement added, “All other decisions were consistent with the opening-night credits.”