I dislike these awards for the following reasons:
- More competition - As mentioned above, the arts--MUSICALs in particular--are inherently competitive. Somehow we've decided that no artistic endeavor should continue without a trophy being attached. See also: marching band, jazz band, twirling, Irish dance, ...
- Extended season - MUSICALs are meant to have a very intense, but very brief lifespan. When I was working with shows, the season ran from January to the end of March. Since these things are awarded at the end of May, the season is effectively extended that long. Late May is supposed to belong to things other than the MUSICAL . This is also a problem because of:
- Egos - Being a lead in a MUSICAL is pretty heady stuff, and getting beaten for a lead you thought you'd be right for is pretty awful. The extended season means that you don't really go back to normal life until nearly graduation. You spend about half of the school year carrying around your status as the title character, or the third chorus-boy from the left. I've been both, and can tell you there's a difference.
- Another reprise - It resurrects zombie incarnations of shows that won't be anything other than a sad echo of their peak. A show that’s had twenty-five hours of rehearsal, plus eight performances, within six days is not going to be well-represented with only a quick refresher a month-and-a-half later.
- Injury - It puts physical demands on students who are no longer conditioned for them. A kick-line after you’ve been doing kick-lines for three months is very different from one after two months of playing badminton in gym.
- Money - It enriches an entity other than the school programs that produced the show in the first place. One of the more reasonable defenses of this kind of thing is that students get to see performances by other schools. However, if a student buys a ticket to see another school’s show, the money goes toward that school’s show. If they pay $15 to hear the same song at the YNOTs, the profit goes to...?
- Final say - It introduces the possibility of an unwelcome asterisk. Some years ago, my school produced Aida. It was a triumph on every level: production, performance, casting, emotional impact--everything. Then the YNOTs gave the costume award to someone else. Now this show has a little blemish on its memory that no one should have been given rights to apply, because they're:
- Outsiders - It extends credibility and authority to people who haven't earned it. Directors know not only which songs came out the best, but which students came the greatest distance to get them there. They know who not only learned her role two days after scripts were available, but also knew every other role in the show and could fill in for any of them on opening night if asked. The audience knows when they’ve seen something special, and lots prove it by coming back and buying tickets to the matinee. Why let some “professional” register their opinion after all of that?