Dawn Chiang Named to Tony Nominating Committee

by Michael Eddy
Lighting designer and Theatre Projects’ senior consultant, Dawn Chiang
Lighting designer and Theatre Projects’ senior consultant, Dawn Chiang

This summer the Tony Awards Administration Committee announced the nominating committee for the 2017-2018 Broadway season. The nominating committee attends all productions during the Broadway season and meets on a designated date to determine, by vote, the Tony Award nominees for that season. The committee of Tony nominators announced include 50 members for the 2017-2018 season. Members of the committee serve a three-year term. This year there are 12 new members, including lighting designer and Theatre Projects’ senior consultant, Dawn Chiang. Stage Directions asked Chiang about being invited on to the nominating committee.

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected to the committee,” she noted. “They contacted me, saying that my name had been put in for consideration to be on the Tony nominating committee and asked if I would be interested. You have to make a commitment to see all the shows coming up each season. Last year it was about 35 or so. I told them I would make that work with my schedule and they said they would get back to me. Next they called me and said, ‘Welcome to the nominating committee!’ I am honored and really quite excited to be part of it.”

She continues, “The committee is fairly representative of the industry. There are actors, designers, playwrights, producers, directors, and artistic directors from some of the leading regional theaters as well. It’s quite a broad range of people from throughout the industry, which is pretty remarkable.”

“I think it is a very happy assignment to have to see the entire season and also a wonderful educational opportunity to see the breadth and scope of what people bring to Broadway. It is everybody’s dream in theater to bring their production to Broadway, so you know as a member of the committee you really want to devote your attention and care to seeing each one of them because everybody is giving it their best shot.”

Chiang has been an active lighting designer—in addition to a theatre consultant—for more than 30 years and has lit dozens of on- and off-Broadway shows including Zoot Suit (Broadway), Blithe Spirit (Syracuse Stage), Next Fall (San Jose Repertory), and A Little Night Music (New York City Opera and Live from Lincoln Center on PBS). Her experience should serve her well in this new role. “I’ve worked on Broadway so I appreciate what goes into trying to make these productions happen. When it’s a large production that you’re trying to make happen in the time allotted or if you have a show that’s coming in from out of a town or transfering a smaller production and you need to find the balance to refrain from overexpanding it. I appreciate what goes on making those choices on a show. Also I’m looking forward to learning what people are trying to convey whether it’s a story or entertainment or a combination of both or a new approach to telling a story. I believe my experience will help me have a discerning eye. I really think it is going to be a great experience. I am really looking forward to it.”

Beyond her work with Theatre Projects and her lighting designs, Chiang is also board member for the Behind the Scenes Foundation as well as a mentor for Theatre Development Fund’s Open Doors Program. “The theater has been my life’s work,” Chiang concludes. “Both creating the performance spaces themselves, and helping to create productions that are impactful, provocative, and enlightening. It will be exciting to see all the new productions that come to Broadway each season and learn what they each bring to the world of live theater.”