It’s no secret that RowHome Magazine is a big fan of the theatre, so of course we’re excited for the 75th annual Tony Awards ceremony (June 11th) which includes hometown nominees like Rob McClure for his title role in Mrs. Doubtfire and Sidney DuPont as Washington Henry in Paradise Square. We’re also excited that our city’s Kimmel Cultural Campus is nominated too, as a producer for the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. To find out more about this nomination, I spoke with Fran Egler, the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Senior Director Programming & Presentations and a Tony award voter! We talked a bit about this year’s ceremony, the voting and eligibility process, and what Tony-nominated shows we can look forward to next season here in Philadelphia.
The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. The Broadway League determines show eligibility from 45 theatres concentrated mostly along Broadway, Egler explains. “From the Vivian Beaumont Theater [at Lincoln Center] down to the Nederlander.”
This year, the Tony Awards will recognize some shows that opened back in February 20, 2020 as well, which happened to be the day after the 2020 ceremony’s cutoff date…and just a few weeks before Broadway shut down for 18 months. This is why last year’s condensed ceremony didn’t recognize nearly as many that are eligible this year.
“This season, 32 shows opened that were also Tony eligible,” Egler says. “But 18 of
those opened after April 1st.”
The original eligibility cutoff for this year was April 28th, 2022, but it was luckily pushed back to May 4th, allowing the nominators extra time to see all of the eligible shows. “The number of shows opening in the last two months was intense,” says Egler who has to see every show nominated in a specific category in order to place a vote. She had until Friday, June 10th, to submit her ballots.
“I’d try to go [to New York] on Wednesdays,” she says of the two-show day and rush to see them all. “I also did lots of Friday to Sunday visits with four shows.”
Egler has the opportunity to vote (only one of 700 people who have the ability to do so) because The Kimmel Cultural Campus is a member of the Broadway League, a co-presenter of the Tony’s. The Kimmel is also a member of the Independent Presenters Network (IPN). The IPN consists of 40 theatres and performing arts centers that bring Broadway productions to cities throughout North America. In the past, the IPN has produced shows on Broadway like Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Color Purple, and Legally Blonde.
“The Independent Presenters Network is a group of like-minded presenters that make sure shows have a touring future,” says Egler. Being involved with shows, like the nominated Company, keeps Philly in front of booking agents and ensures the stability of touring Broadway. “I’m very excited that we’re a part of Company. This is a unique reimagining with a great score.”
Egler will actually be at the Tony Awards this Sunday to represent the Kimmel Cultural Campus. “It’s my fourth time attending,” she says. “But I haven’t been there since 2009.”
Of course, there are many added precautions to keep everyone safe, but she is looking forward to being back at Radio City Music Hall which can hold about three times as many people as last year’s condensed ceremony at the Winter Garden Theatre (which currently houses The Music Man revival). And while Egler can’t say what nominees she’s rooting for, she can say that she thinks Philadelphia will be pleased with the diverse collection of Broadway shows (including many past nominees) that will fill the Kimmel stages starting next fall.
“We’re bringing back the classics like Annie and Les Miserables,” she says, “but we’re also able to show the scope of Broadway. Six is funny, sharp and intelligent! Moulin Rouge is a spectacle. And Philly is opening the tour of 1776 after coming off the Broadway run. It’s going to be a huge season.”
Another highlight includes A Soldier’s Play which won the 2020 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play and is written by Philadelphia playwright Charles Fuller. It will be here in January of 2023. But the 2021-2022 season isn’t over yet! Audiences can look forward to an active summer at the Kimmel Cultural Campus with To Kill A Mockingbird in July and Dear Evan Hansen (originally scheduled for April 2020) in August. On June 25th, the campus, in association with Wawa Welcome America and The Avenue of the Arts, will host a free block party to kick off 16 days of events in our city surrounding the 4th of July. Attendees will also be able to see performances by cast members of next season’s Moulin Rouge and Jagged Little Pill, and interactive dance workshops from Disney’s The Lion King.
“So much of this recent season was just about getting people back into the theatre and making sure they felt comfortable and safe,” Egler says. “It’s been incredibly challenging for our staff and the staff of the shows. We wanted audiences to know they can be alright in these uncertain times, with the right tools.”
We can’t wait for this year’s Tony nominees to make their way to Philly! Until then, New York City is only a train ride away. No matter where you see a show this summer, know that you’ll be in for a memorable performance.
“Being in Center City, we’ve had a few days where something was going on at each venue. You can’t beat that- it feels like Philly is a city you can connect to,” Egler says.
For a list of this year’s Tony nominees, visit www.tonyawards.com and to see what’s coming up at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, click here.