I will always endorse adding as many new categories as possible to the Tony Awards.
Actually, that sentiment holds true for every awards shows; why not create more opportunities to reward AAAAAALL the stellar work produced on Broadway every year, especially since the Tonys often translate to all-important (and all-too-rare) box office success? I understand not wanting to dilute the value of winning, but if that’s a slippery slope, we’re nowhere near slipping down right now.
As such, I stand with the actors calling for the addition of two new categories to the 2019 Tonys (it’s too late to implement them for this year’s ceremony): Best Ensemble and Best Chorus. But I’d make one tweak:
Best Ensemble should be exclusively for plays and Best Chorus only for musicals, the latter of which will come closer to achieving their stated aim of celebrating the often-ignored but always-indispensable contributions of everyone on stage, not just the attention-garnering leads. The current proposal distinguishes them as such: Best Ensemble is “defined as the entire cast in a musical or play” and Best Chorus as “a group that sings or dances, or both, in a musical or play.”
I just don’t see a sufficient difference between those two designations, and I fear not separating them into plays and musicals — as is the norm for every other applicable category — would end up favoring quantity over quality, i.e. the ginormous casts of musicals will always trump smaller plays.
At the same time, Best Ensemble strictly for plays would probably result in some double-dipped nominations; most play casts just aren’t big enough to award significantly more actors than those who’d receive individual nominations anyways. For instance, my top three play ensembles so far this season are Angels in America, Lobby Hero, and Meteor Shower. A strong group…but I’d also nominate most of those very same actors across the lead and supporting categories.
But again, what’s the problem with doling out more nominations? Heralding each part and their collective wholeness as a unit seems perfectly fine to me, because they’re in fact different skills; sometimes an actor’s performance is so good that it creates an imbalance with the rest of the cast — succeeding on individual terms AND fitting in with a group are separate talents, both of which deserve official recognition.