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What does it mean to be a Tony voter?

Our President, Maria Van Laanen, has recently been named a Tony Award® voter! This means she is bringing the voice of the Fox Cities to New York, representing the Center in selecting the best of Broadway to receive this prestigious performing arts award.

Only 868 voters represent the public and vote for the Tony® winners. Voters like Maria represent groups and organizations that are seen as industry leaders, which is an honor for the Fox Cities P.A.C.

Maria sat down and explained what it means to be a Tony® voter and why it’s important for the Fox Cities.

How do you get to be a Tony® voter?

First you have to be a full member of the Broadway League, which is a national trade association for the Broadway industry, and fill certain requirements regarding your level of decision making authority for your business’ Broadway-related activities. Then once you have fulfilled the eligibility requirements, your application must be accepted and voted in by the executive committee of the Broadway League. Finally, in order to actually vote for the Tony Awards® , you must have attended that season’s Tony® nominated productions.

What are you looking for in each show that makes it Tony®-worthy?

There are several categories in which shows can be nominated so you must watch each production with an eye toward all categories. When watching a show you need to be sure you are observing very carefully each artistic element because you never know what category it could receive a nomination. For example a show may have incredible sets that leave you wondering “How did they do that?” or it may bring together sounds in a way you have never heard before making it a likely candidate for set or sound design awards.

How does your connection with the Tony Awards® apply to your role at the Fox Cities P.A.C.?

As a Tony® voter, I am able to see the new shows on Broadway. This helps me keep in touch with the latest trends in the industry. For example, for a while many of the new musicals on Broadway were “juke box” musicals based on the songs from a particular artist. Smokey Joe’s Café, Mamma Mia! and Movin’ Out, come to mind. More recently we have seen more new Broadway titles inspired from the film industry such as A Christmas Story and Dirty Dancing.

It is also important to have an opportunity to experience the audiences’ reactions. Although a New York audiences’ reactions can be different from ours here in the Fox Cities, after many years seeing which shows have strong reactions from our local audiences, it helps me anticipate how a show may transfer from Broadway to a tour. This all informs the process of determining what Broadway shows may be a good fit for the audiences in the Fox Cities.

We’re so excited to hear all about the shows Maria gets to see and we’ll make sure to keep you posted! What Broadway shows are you excited about this season?


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