Disney Theatrical Productions’ Tarzan, now in previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and scheduled to open on May 10, will not be considered for the 2006 Drama Desk Awards because the members of the organization’s nominating committee won’t be provided with tickets to see the show until after the April 23 meeting at which they will choose this season’s nominees.
As a result, Tarzan will be considered for Drama Desk honors next season in competition with the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins, first seen in London last year and scheduled to open on Broadway in October 2006. However, Tarzan will be in competition for Tony Awards this season since the Tony nominators will be invited to see the show by May 10, which is both the cutoff date for those nominations and the date of the show’s official opening.
Nominators for the Drama Desk Awards, the Tonys, and other theatrical honors are usually invited to see shows immediately before or some time after opening night. When a show opens late in the season, the producers often make an exception and invite the nominators earlier so that they can meet their deadline. But because the Drama Desk declined was unable or unwilling to push back its nomination deadline, the committee members would have had to see Tarzan a full two and a half weeks before the show’s official opening in order to consider it for awards this season. Disney has chosen not to invite them so far in advance because, as of this writing, the show is still in process and is not yet in its final form as it will be seen by the critics.
A statement by Chris Boneau, press representative for Tarzan, reads in part: “When the League [of American Theatres and Producers] announced that the Broadway season cut-off date was being extended to May 10, Disney’s Tarzan set [its] opening night date [for] May 10, 2006, making it the final musical to open in the 2005-2006 Broadway season. At that time, we asked the Drama Desk and other organizations to consider extending their cut-off dates to more accurately match the Broadway season. The Drama Desk organization declined. We respectfully request that Disney’s Tarzan be considered for the 2006-2007 Drama Desk season.”
Stated Tarzan producer Thomas Schumacher, “My first responsibility is to the show. We’ve built our entire rehearsal and preview period to let the creative team create a new piece of musical theatre. Allowing a nominating committee into a preview performance two and half weeks before all the other critics would be unfair to the creative process.”
The members of the Drama Desk nominating committee are Michael Buckley, Christopher Byrne, Matthew Murray, Andy Propst, Richard Ridge, Barbara Siegel (chair of the committee), and William Wolf (president of the Drama Desk). Wolf confirmed that all of the other Broadway shows opening late this season, including The Drowsy Chaperone (May 1), Faith Healer (May 4), The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (May 7), and Shining City (May 9) will be considered for the 2006 awards because the nominators will have seen them before the deadline. Significantly, The Caine Mutiny and Faith Healer are revivals, while The Drowsy Chaperone, Shining City, and Faith Healer are productions that have recently played elsewhere, whereas Tarzan is a brand-new show that’s opening cold on Broadway with no out-of-town tryout.
In contrast to the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk considers Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway shows together in nominating and voting for award recipients, though the major honors usually go to Broadway productions. The nominees for this year’s honors will be announced on Thursday, April 27, and the awards ceremony will be held on May 21. For more information, click here.