Tony Awards: Lost at Sea?

Inquiring minds (and union supporters) want to know: Why is a cruise ship production of a show that hasn’t been on Broadway for more than three years getting a spot on the Tony Awards, a nationally-televised awards show that supposedly celebrates the Great White Way — not the Deep Blue Sea ?

The cast of the Royal Caribbean Cruise production of Hairspray will be performing at the Tonys
The cast of the Royal Caribbean Cruise production of Hairspray will be performing at the Tonys

Mathew deGuzman, a New York-based actor currently in the cast of the Los Angeles production of “Follies,” pointed out to me this odd news announcement from Playbill: “Royal Caribbean International has partnered with the Tony Awards to include a live broadcast from the middle of the Caribbean Sea, where the line’s Oasis of the Seas’ cast of Hairspray will perform a number in the ship’s Opal Theater as part of the June 10 Tony Awards program.”

As deGuzman says, “we are advertising and in a sense endorsing a venue that is NOT on Broadway and is NOT a union house.” He explained his objection to this on his Facebook page:

“While I fully support cruise ship performers and their shows as a viable and legitimate way to make a living in the entertainment industry, I cannot support Royal Caribbean’s Hairspray cast performing via a live feed at the TONY awards…The cruise ship industry can create their own awards show [for] their thousands of stage shows…The cruises ship industry has it’s own market – stop trying to take business from the union theater community!!”

Comments online:
Travis Bedard (‏@travisbedard) The union/Broadway folks should sure be concerned.
Liz Richards (‏@misslizrichards):I’m mostly annoyed because it’s basically an extended commercial for the cruise line, not theater.
Kevin Laibson (‏@kevinlaibson): Same thing, right? Theater as a reason to go cruising is still points for theater.
Liz Richards: I guess? If we’re celebrating Broadway theater though, why give time to the cruise when only 3 nominated plays perform?
Kimberly Kaye( @Kimberly_Kaye) ‏It’s absolutely a conversation that needs to be had, but the slamming that cast is getting via social media is unacceptable.

Suzan Eraslan (‏@SuzanEraslan): It shouldn’t be an issue. Unions exist to support theater makers; theater doesn’t exist to support the unions.

Brandon G. ‏(@bg306) I love Hairspray but, i think its silly that they are gonna perform. I would rather see a performance from Bonnie & Clyde

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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