Actors’ Equity Lobbies for New Tony Awards Categories

Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents theater actors and stage managers, has launched a push for two new categories at the Tony Awards that would collectively honor ensemble casts and choruses.

The union kicked off its campaign with the website EveryoneOnStage.com, which includes a petition of support that visitors to the site can sign. Equity has also sent formal letters requesting the change to the two organizations that co-produce the Tonys, the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. The union hopes to add the categories for the 2019 ceremony, which will honor shows eligible during the 2018-19 Broadway season.

The proposed awards are best chorus in a musical or play, which would focus on the song-and-dance, triple-threat performers (excluding lead roles) that make up a show’s chorus, while the best ensemble in a musical or play would honor entire casts. Other organizations hand out similar awards, both in theater (including D.C.’s Helen Hayes Awards and Chicago’s Jeff Awards) and on screen (including the SAG Awards).

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the ensemble is frequently the hardest-working group on the stage,” said Equity president Kate Shindle, now appearing in “The Sting” at the Paper Mill Playhouse. “These new Tony categories would help ensure that every one of the performers who appear on stage can have their talent and efforts recognized.”

Equity launches the campaign just as the visibility of the Tony Awards will gets its annual boost from the announcement of nominations (coming May 1 this year) through to the ceremony itself (June 10).

Representatives for the Tony Awards had no comment.

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