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Three on the Aisle: Is There an Alternative to the Tonys?

On this episode, the critics grapple with the flaws of the Tony Awards and offer some possible fixes—and their alternative awards.

Twice a month, critics Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal; Elisabeth Vincentelli, contributor to The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The New Yorker; and Peter Marks of The Washington Post get together on their Three on the Aisle podcast to talk about what’s going on in American theatre.

The 14th episode of Three on the Aisle was taped in response to the annual early-summer critical obsession with the Tony Awards. Instead of the customary who-will-win/who-should-win checklist, the 30TA critics decided to go their own way, taking a cold-eyed look at what’s gone wrong with the Tony telecast (whatever happened to on-air excerpts from the best-play nominees?) and how it reflects fundamental problems with the awards themselves, which implicitly present what gets performed on Broadway as the best of American theatre in general. Not only are Off-Broadway shows by definition ignored, but this year’s Regional Theatre award is actually going to a long-established New York troupe, La MaMa, instead of being used to publicize a company outside Manhattan.

As Vincentelli puts it: “The Tonys make it harder for many playgoers around the country to understand that Broadway is only a very, very small part of theatre in America—and that it’s not the most creative and significant part.”

In the second half of the podcast, the members of the panel present their own individual “anti-Tony” awards, recognizing achievement in and out of New York in five categories:

  • Best acting performance, in a play or a musical:
  • Best revival of a musical
  • Best revival of a play (or classical production)
  • Best new play
  • Best new musical

Download the episode here. Subscribe via the RSS feediTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Have comments or requests for what the critics should talk about? Email them at, or go to @threeontheaisle on Twitter.

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