After speaking to producer Eva Price about the commercial Broadway theatre, awards for performances are the kind of thing that can make or break a show’s life. So if awards ultimately behoove the theatrical landscape, why not have more of them? Well, that’s exactly what happened in 2020 when a new awards ceremony was added to the New York theatre industry: the Antonyo Awards.
The Antonyo Awards were created in 2020 by Drew Shade and Broadway Black, an organization that supports Black theatre. Named as a light-hearted reference to the Tony Awards, these awards acknowledged Black artists from both the Broadway and off-Broadway theatre communities. The inaugural ceremony was produced by Shade and a committee of associates, including Darnes Barnes.
Darius Barnes made his Broadway debut as a replacement in the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis in 2011. In the decade since, he’s performed in five additional Broadway musicals: as a replacement in Mean Girls, Cinderella and Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark and an original company member of the 2019 revival of Kiss Me, Kate and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He is also slated to open the new Broadway show MJ the Musical when Broadway returns.
In addition to his obviously busy performing schedule, he worked on the production team of the Antonyo Awards. He joined me recently to talk about how the team created an awards ceremony from scratch – and why he made the decision not to include a category for Best Ensemble. Here’s our conversation…