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Broadway's annual celebration of theater will have a Pittsburgh presence

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
This theater image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown shows Patina Miller during a performance of 'Pippin,' at Broadway's Music Box Theatre in New York. Producers of the Tony Award-nominated show said Wednesday, May 15, 2013, that a national tour will kick off in September 2014 at the Buell Theatre in Denver. (AP Photo/Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus)
This theater publicity image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown shows the cast of 'Matilda The Musical,' including Bertie Carvel, right, and Lauren Ward, left, during a performance in New York.
Matthew Murphy
Stark Sands, Billy Porter, The Angels (L-R: Kyle Taylor Parker, Charlie Sutton, Joey Taranto, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Paul Canaan, and Kyle Post), and cast of Kinky Boots
Matthew Murphy
Billy Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway

There's more to the Tonys — Broadway's annual celebration of theater — than handing out awards.

Televised performances of nominated shows and Tony Award recognition get the attention of ticket buyers and out-of-town audiences who can have an impact at box offices in New York and elsewhere, says Van Kaplan, executive producer for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. The company is among the investors in two nominees for best musical — “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda The Musical” — and “Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella,” which was nominated for best revival of a musical.

“Winning a Tony can help to assure that a show will continue to run in New York and then go out on tour and then come to (Pittsburgh CLO) subscribers,” Kaplan says. “So, awards can make a difference in the perception of the show for ticket buyers.”

Occasionally, a Tony Award may help investors, including the CLO, by turning a profit.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which the CLO invested in, is still sending royalty checks to investors. In some cases, it can do so for decades, as high schools and regional and community theaters stage the shows.

The Tony Awards show also is a social event for industry professionals who attend as presenters, nervous nominees and audience members.

Audience members have to be in their seats an hour before the broadcast begins, which turns the show into a four-hour event, says Jules Fisher, a 1960 Carnegie Mellon University graduate who's nominated, along with Peggy Eisenhauer, for best lighting design for “Lucky Guy.”

“What the audience doesn't see on TV is that during the commercials everyone gets up and runs around doing a lot of socializing,” Fisher says.

It's one of the reasons Kaplan attends in person whenever he can.

“Each year is exciting in a new way, and for me, it never gets dull. Tony night always promises familiar faces and surprises and the theater biz at its nicest.”

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or

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