Sunday, June 6, 2004

Tony bestows recognition

More than 1,300 professional not-for-profit theaters across the nation are eligible for the Special Tony Award for Regional Theatre, which is given for a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theater nationally.

Representatives from several of the theaters which have won Special Tony Awards recently agree that the greatest value of the awards is in local and national public recognition.

"It says you're equal to other major theaters around the country," says Denver Center Theatre Company ('98 winner) public relations manager Chris Wiger. "It gave us recognition in the city we never had before. We were the first national champion in the city, ahead of the Broncos."

"It gave an incredible sense of pride, within the organization and in the community," says Children's Theatre Company (2003 winner) managing director Teresa Eyring. The Minneapolis company was the first children's theater to win the award, and Eyring was thrilled about "the boost to the field."

At the acclaimed summer Williamstown Theatre Festival (winner 2002), communications director Jenny Gersten doesn't know if the award made a difference at the box office but "it made us walk a little taller."

"It reinforces for the people who support the theater how important it is to invest," says Eyring. "Did it propel us forward in a way we wouldn't have without it? That's hard to say. We had considerable momentum already."

Eyring says there's another great thing about the Tony. "It's so much fun to see it and touch it." She highly recommends flicking the trophy's centerpiece metal disc with your fingernail, if you get the chance. "It has this great little 'ding,'" she promises.

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