Now that the 2015-2016 Broadway season has come to an end, the celebration is not over until host James Corden has the last word on the June 12th telecast of The Tony Awards on CBS. The award ceremony is, more often than not, the most important moment for any nominated show. Sure, going home with the golden trophy can help boost ticket sales for any opened production but in some cases the four to five minutes of camera time on a major television network might just be enough. One show hoping to win big at the award ceremony is the recent Broadway Revival of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’sSpring Awakening, that garnered three Tony Award nominations, including Best Direction (Michael Arden), Best Lighting Design (Ben Stanton) and Best Revival of a Musical. Although Spring Awakening closed in January, Deaf West Theatre is trusting the telecast will bring awareness to the critically acclaimed production for future bookings.
What most people do not know about the musical performances on the Tony Awards is the rehearsal and performance cost comes straight from the production. CBS has a “Want the exposure? Pay for it” attitude towards the nominees, that can make or break the future lifespan of a show. For Spring Awakening, the producers have turned to the fans to fund the $200,000 Tonys performance – a historic industry first Kickstarter campaign.
In a press release, artistic director of Deaf West Theatre, D.J. Kurs was quoted stating, “Our journey to Broadway originally began with a Kickstarter, which funded rehearsals in a tiny church in North Hollywood and performances at the 99-seat Inner City Arts’ Rosenthal Theater in Los Angeles. Now, as a non-profit, Deaf West is looking to our fervent supporters, many of whom supported Spring Awakening’s acclaimed limited run on Broadway, to reunite our far-flung cast for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for the world on the Tony Awards broadcast. There’s just one night a year that theater gets this platform. Our performance will be an undeniable statement to the world that theater is for everyone.”
The revival received acclaim from every major theatrical critic, including myself naming leading actors Sandra Mae Frank & Daniel N. Durant one of the top 10 best theatrical performances of 2015. The production was performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English by a cast of 28 and marked the Broadway debut for 25 of its cast members. The show began previews on September 8th and opened for a limited engagement on September 27th; upon closing it had played 23 previews and 137 regular performances. Plans for a national tour to begin in 2017 have been announced. Performing at the Tony Awards can keep this production stamped in the historic legacy that is Broadway and beyond. Having pledged myself to their campaign, I hope you will join the ‘guilty ones’ and support Deaf West Theatre’s efforts to get on CBS Sunday June 12th. Show your support on social media using lyrical hashtag #NotGone and visiting GetSpringOnTheTonys.com.