The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and an award is given for regional theatre. Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award. The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.
The rules for the Tony Awards are set forth in the official document "Rules and Regulations of The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards", which applies for that season only. The Tony Awards are considered the highest U.S. theatre honor, the New York theatre industry's equivalent to the Academy Awards (Oscars) for motion pictures, the Grammy Awards for music and the Emmy Awards for television, and the Laurence Olivier Award for West End theatre in England.
Since 1997, the Tony Awards ceremony has usually been held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in June and broadcast live on CBS television. The 64th Tony Awards ceremony was held on June 13, 2010, at Radio City Music Hall, with a three-hour broadcast on CBS television.
The musicals that fared the worst on Tony night were Chicago (1976, losing in many categories to A Chorus Line) and Steel Pier (1997), both of which received 11 nominations, but won no awards. Ironically, Steel Pier lost in several categories to the revival of Chicago. Coincidentally, both Chicago and Steel Pier have scores by Kander and Ebb. The play Indiscretions (1995), was nominated for nine awards but did not win any.
Three musicals have won the Tony Award for Best Musical while the book, music and lyrics were written by one person: The Music Man (Meredith Willson), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Rupert Holmes) and Rent (Jonathan Larson). RENT and The Mystery of Edwin Drood also won the Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score, while the categories did not exist in 1957 when The Music Man was eligible.
The most Tony Awards ever received by a musical was The Producers with 12 awards, including best musical. The most Tonys ever received by a non-musical was The Coast of Utopia with seven awards, including best play, in 2007.
Three musicals have won all "big six" awards for Best Musical, score, book, leading actor, actress and direction: South Pacific, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Hairspray.
Seven shows have won the design awards for sets, costumes and lighting: Follies (1972), The Phantom of the Opera (1986), The Lion King (1998), The Producers (2001), The Light in the Piazza (2005), The Coast of Utopia (2007) and the revival of South Pacific (2008). The 2008 revival of South Pacific is the only production to have won all four Creative Arts Tony Awards in Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design (the category having been introduced for the 2008 awards).
La Cage aux Folles recently made history as the first show to win the Tony three times for best production, including the original 1984 mounting and the 2005 and 2010 revivals.
Harold Prince has won 21 Tony Awards, more than anyone else, including eight for directing, eight for producing, two as producer of the year's Best Musical, and three special Tony Awards.
Stephen Sondheim has won more Tony Awards than any other composer, with eight. Bob Fosse has won the most Tonys for choreography, also eight.
Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury tie for the most performance Tony Awards with five each.
While several performers have won Tonys for roles that have involved cross dressing, only two have won for playing a character of the opposite sex: Mary Martin in the title role of Peter Pan (1955) and Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (2003). In 2000, Australian actor Barry Humphries won the Special Tony Award for a live theatrical event at the 55th Annual Tony Awards for Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, Dame Edna is his "Melbourne Housewife" alter-ego who was recently on Broadway in the show All About Me.
Oliver Smith has won a record eight scenic design Tony Awards, and Jules Fisher has won the most lighting design awards, also eight. Fisher has received 19 nominations as a lighting designer and one as a producer.
The first time that three lead actors were nominated and won in the same category were David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish for Billy Elliot the Musical.
Julie Harris has been nominated more often than any other performer, a total of ten times.
Four actresses have been nominated in two acting categories in the same year: Amanda Plummer, Dana Ivey, Kate Burton, and Jan Maxwell. Plummer in 1982 was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for A Taste of Honey and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Agnes of God, for which she won. Ivey in 1984 was nominated as Best Featured Actress in Musical for Sunday in the Park with George and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Heartbreak House. In 2002, Burton was nominated for Best Actress in Play for Hedda Gabler and Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Elephant Man. Maxwell was nominated in 2010 for Best Actress in a Play for The Royal Family and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Lend Me a Tenor.
Boyd Gaines was the first performer to be nominated for all four performance awards for which a performer is eligible: Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1989 for The Heidi Chronicles, Best Actor in a Musical in 1994 for She Loves Me, Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2000 for Contact, Best Actor in a Play in 2007 for Journey's End, and again for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2008 for Gypsy. The only time Gaines was nominated but did not win was for Journey's End. Raúl Esparza was the second performer to be nominated in all four categories, achieving this over a mere six seasons: Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2004 for Taboo, Best Actor in a Musical in 2007 for Company, Best Featured Actor in a Play in 2008 for The Homecoming, and Best Actor in a Play in 2009 for Speed-the-Plow. He has yet to win.
Angela Lansbury is the only actress to be nominated for all four performance awards. She won Best Actress in a Musical for Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975), and Sweeney Todd (1979). She was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for Deuce in 2007. She won Best Featured Actress in a Play for Blithe Spirit in 2009. She was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical for A Little Night Music in 2010.