Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where have you gone Mr. Fisher?

At the beginning of every theatrical season, I like to look at the list of Tony nominators. I know come May I am going to be bombarded with: “Who chooses these things anyway?!?!” So it’s best to prepare ahead.

We could debate the long-lasting effect (or lack thereof) of Tony nominations for weeks, but, regardless, these people are important. Last year, there were 27 nominators at the start of the season and 23 by season’s end, this year there are again 27 at the start. (A statement I read from The League said there were 28, but I keep re-counting and getting 27, so, I am going with my number.)

For those who don't know, nominators serve three-year terms. So, this year, Stephen Bogardus, Kirsten Childs, Jacqueline Davis, Nancy Ford, Geoffrey Johnson and Enid Nemy are off the list because they already served their three. Dana Ivey has also recused herself because she is in Butley--she'll be back next year, in theory.

This year, the new people are Actors' Fund President Joe Benincasa, Robert Callely (best known for running playwright foundations, I think), Public Theater Associate Artistic Director John Dias, producer/company manager Sue Frost (who hasn't worked on Broadway in over a decade), actress Joanna Gleason, Betty Jacobs (a script consultant who has served before), actress Phyllis Newman, Fordham professor Larry Sacharow, writer Steve Suskin and BC/EFA head Tom Viola.

So here is the total list:

Victoria Bailey - Executive Director, Theatre Development Fund
Joe Benincasa - President, The Actors' Fund of America
Susan Birkenhead - Lyricist
Edward Burbridge - Scenic Designer
Robert Callely - Theatre Executive
Ben Cameron - Program Director for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Betty Corwin - Retired Director of the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts
John Dias - Producer, Dramaturg, Educator
Mercedes Ellington - Choreographer
Sue Frost - Producer/Company Manager
Joanna Gleason - Actor
Andrew Jackness - Scenic Designer
David Henry Hwang - Playwright
Betty Jacobs - Script Consultant/Theatre Historian
Robert Kamlot - Retired General Manager
Todd London - Artistic Director, New Dramatists
Brian Stokes Mitchell - Actor
Peter Neufeld - Former General Manager
Phyllis Newman - Actor/Writer/Lyricist
Lynn Nottage - Playwright
Gilbert Parker - Retired Senior Vice President of the William Morris Agency
Jonathan Reynolds - Playwright/Screenwriter
Larry Sacharow - Theatre Professor, Fordham University
Steve Suskin - Theatre Author
Jac Venza - Retired Executive, WNET
Tom Viola - President, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Franklin Weissberg - Retired Judge of the New York State Court of Claims

Now there are some interesting things about this list… Without names such as Marc Shaiman (who served fairly recently) and Kirsten Childs, there are no composers on this list. There are also no directors. The majority of people on this list—for better or worse--are people who watch shows, not those directly involved in the creation of shows. I could write an interesting feature on this, but I feel like no one would run it.

Now the most notable thing about the above list is who is missing. Before the 2005-2006 season, Sarah Jessica Parker was announced for the nominating committee, but she had to pull out for the year because of hubby Matthew Broderick’s involvement in The Odd Couple. This year, she would again have to take a year leave because he has another Broadway gig, The Starry Messenger. Except oddly there was no mention whatsoever of her when the committee was announced—no note that she had another year off. Even stranger is the absence of Rob Fisher from the list. Rob Fisher, a musical director probably best known for his work with the Encores! series, was also announced as a nominator last year, except he didn’t serve on the committee. This year his absence could because of his involvement in The Apple Tree (which started at Encores!)—though there is no note to prove that--but it’s still curious. Why did he not even participate last year?

Now each year, somehow nominators are lost along the way. There are various reasons why—I’m assuming in most cases it is either a conflict of interest or a failure to see every show. For instance, last season Marc Shaiman disappeared from the list by season’s end. But this usually happens after the person has served for at least one year. Rob Fisher never served.

Regardless of all this, the people on that list are ones who will dash hopes or make dreams come true this season. Let’s hope they have some taste (that agrees with mine).


Seth Christenfeld said...

Rob Fisher was Apple Tree's MD at Encores! - could he be repeating the role and thus had to recuse himself?

carajoy said...

Yeah, Seth, I pointed that out in the posting... but that does not explain his absence last year. He is also not on a year leave--ala Dana Ivey--rather he is just no longer mentioned.

Seth Christenfeld said...

Gotcha - misread.