Local 802’s Protest Over “Contact” Sparked Action

New Tony Award Category Is Created

Volume C, No. 7/8July, 2000

A new Tony award category has been created to recognize “Special Theatrical Events” that don’t fall easily into the musical or play categories, the American Theatre Wing announced in June. The new award will be presented beginning with the 2000-2001 season.

The Tony sponsoring organization took this action in direct response to protests lodged by Local 802 against the nomination of Contact in the New Musical category. Contact – which is described by its creators as a “dance-play” – has no original music, no new orchestrations, no orchestra and no live musical performance of any kind. But despite this, it was nominated as a musical and went on to win the Best New Musical award.

Local 802 President Bill Moriarity had sent a strongly worded letter of protest to the Tony Administrative Committee as soon as the nomination was announced, objecting to the nomination and suggesting that a new category be established to recognize shows like Contact, which may merit recognition but are clearly neither a musical nor a play.

While the Tony Nominating Committee refused to alter their decision for this past season, the creation of a new category may prevent this kind of travesty from happening again. Moriarity told Allegro that another change is also needed: musician representation on the Tony administrative and nominating committees. Local 802 has formally requested such representation. The first opportunity to consider that request will come at next spring’s Administrative Committee meeting.

In other Tony awards news, the Local 802 Music Directors Committee plans to submit a request to the Administrative Committee for reinstatement of the Tony for Best Music Direction. That award existed from 1948 to 1964.