Tony Awards Eligibility Committee Supersizes 10 Categories and Splits ‘Side Show’ Twins

Side Show close Broadway

With most of the entertainment industry abuzz over the Oscar nominations on Thursday, the Tony Awards Administration Committee issued a handful of eligibility decisions regarding the current pool of shows that could potentially score nominations at the 2015 Tonys.

Among the notable fallout: The directing category, the choreography category and all acting categories may now be expanded (as was instituted last year for the top play and musical races). In show-specific rulings, Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, the actresses who played conjoined twins in the short-lived Broadway revival of “Side Show,” will be considered eligible for individual acting nominations.

Following in the footsteps of a ruling made last year about the Tonys’ top two awards, the admin committee decided that the director or choreographer races could potentially open up to include a fifth slot if there are more than seven candidates in a single category. Whether the additional spot actually materializes is subject to the same voting math as the expansion of the nominations list for play and musical.

The committee also decided that for any of the eight performance categories, a two-way or three-way tie for the final nomination slot will result in all tied actors receiving a nom. That could potentially expand the usual five-name list in an acting race to seven candidates — i.e., four plus the three tied thesps.

As for the show-specific rulings issued by the Tony admin committee, the “Side Show” decision is notable because the last time two actresses were nominated for playing Violet and Daisy Hilton in “Side Show,” they shared a single nomination. Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were nominated together in 1998, although they didn’t win.

According to a rep for the Tonys, the change relates back to a decision made post-“Billy Elliot” — when three young actors all shared a single nomination for the lead role (and won) — that decrees that only one actor may be eligible for a single acting nomination.

Otherwise it was mostly business as usual for the admin committee, which meets four times over the course of a season to decide questions of eligibility beyond the Tonys’ standard practice of classifying above-the-title performers as leading and below-the-title as featured.

Among the above-the-title actors to be deemed featured performers are Cynthia Nixon and Josh Hamilton in “The Real Thing” (leaving co-stars Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal as leads); Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola in “The Elephant Man” (with Bradley Cooper as lead); Josh Radnor in “Disgraced”; and Bob Balaban, Clare Higgins and Martha Plimpton in “A Delicate Balance” (which leaves Glenn Close, John Lithgow and Lindsay Duncan as leads).

Meanwhile, Michael Esper and Rachel Tucker, the romantic leads of soon-to-shutter Sting musical “The Last Ship,” have been deemed leading players, as has Alex Sharp, the star of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” On the design side, “Curious Incident” projection designer Finn Ross will be considered eligible for a set design nomination alongside set designer Bunny Christie.

The Tony Award administration committee will meet two more times during the season to hash out eligibility questions in the run-up to April 28, when the 2015 Tony nominations are announced.