Raaaaaaaaaain you are my favorite! Except when I actually have to go outside in order to travel somewhere, and also will be moderately gussied up and looking to stay that way. Which just so happens to describe my life in a few hours. GOOD TIMING, SKY TEARS.
The BroadwayWorld awards continue to gnaw at my soul; not so much because they mean anything, but because other theatre people keep pretending they mean something, which, in turn, makes me alternately sad and furious. I know we’re all of us scrabbling to bulk up our resumes with important-sounding accolades and outside validation of our worth, but Jesus, guys. Surely there’s a better way than relying on something with lower standards of eligibility and a more inclusive voting-pool than a People’s Choice Award?
Currently, all nine-hundred people nominated for “Person to Watch” (including myself, and the guy who won a Tony for originating Angel in Rent) are losing by a big margin to a sweet little gal who played Nina in my mom’s production of In the Heights. I was kind of impressed with her share of the votes, until I realized that she was a finalist on some American Idol-type show in the Philippines a few years back, and therefore has a real life, honest-to-god fanbase to draw on for stuff like this. She’s also beating everyone for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, which would be fine if she weren’t also beating everyone over in the Best Leading Actress in a Musical category for the same role in the same production of the same show. But on the bright side, it looks like Broadway darling Jessie Mueller has 18% of the vote for her role in Beautiful in both the Best Leading Actress in a Touring Musical category, and the Best Leading Actor in a Touring Musical category. She’s so damn versatile, that one!
BroadwayWorld: Beacon of accuracy, bastion of legitimacy.
I was really excited about the new award system being cooked up over at Theatre Bay Area, but I’ve heard nothing about it since it was announced earlier this year. Weren’t they supposed to start their first voting season this fall? Sad times. That thing sounded so promising, in terms of inclusiveness, fairness, judging standards, and all-around sanity. Maybe it’s time, at last, to put together my own system of awarding theatrical merit. The Award for the Bay Area’s Incredible Theatre. AwardBAIT, we’ll call it. It’ll be the most coveted piece of meaningless nonsense in the land!
For real, though. Here are the simple rules of my own, imaginary award system:
1) Any and all theatres that wish to have one or more productions considered for awards within the judging year need to submit said show(s) — along with a reasonable admission fee determined by factors like theatre size, budget, and income — to the judging body at least a month before opening night. The judges are then responsible for making sure that at least a set minimum of its members see the show, through a mix of volunteers and random assignment. Judges are required to see a certain number of shows in a variety of areas during the voting season; if they cannot meet that number, they are disqualified from judging. The theatres themselves will provide comps to the judges.
2) Theatres are divided into two categories: professional and non-professional. Professional theatres are determined by whether or not they operate on an Equity contract (guest artist contracts don’t count), OR whether they pay more than just a small, one-time stipend to their casts for the rehearsal and performance process. No awards for touring companies.
3) Judges submit a short written summary of their opinions on each show’s eligible elements to an online database up to a week after they’ve seen it. At the end of the voting season, they are given back their summaries to re-read, and then will fill out a form for each show they saw that scores eligible elements on a scale from 1 to 10. The numeric results of all the judges’ forms will be combined, tabulated, and averaged, and the top five names or shows in each category are the year’s nominees. This prevents the phenomenon of judges forgetting about shows seen earlier in the season come nomination/voting time.
4) Judges vote on the nominees to determine the one winner in each category.
Easy-peasy. Judges would be a mix of critics, professionals, and average theatre lovers, and there would be a lot of them, as there is a ton of theatre in this area. There’s a lot of minutiae I didn’t cover here, but it gives you the basic idea. It’s totally doable, and a way of celebrating all the amazing work done here in the Bay without, like, relying on online votes from people who live in Zimbabwe but want to help their friend from Belmont out, or leaving theatres out in the cold because all the judges live in Walnut Creek and can’t be bothered to fight traffic to get to Sunnyvale for an 8:00 curtain.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’mma go slap on some makeup and sing at Feinstein’s with my favorite drag queen, because sometimes my life is awesome.