Broadway to honor late Tony award-winning actor Hinton Battle by dimming theater lights

Broadway to honor late Tony award-winning actor Hinton Battle by dimming theater lights - Arts and Culture - News

Broadway Community Unites to Honor the Legacy of Three-Time Tony Award-Winning Actor Hinton Battle

Broadway’s 41 theaters will come together to pay tribute to the late Hinton Battle, a groundbreaking and three-time Tony Award-winning actor, on March 12, 2024. Battle passed away on January 30 at the age of 67 (Broadway League, 2024).

The Broadway community’s collective decision to honor Battle in this manner follows earlier plans that only included nine theaters. However, these arrangements sparked a significant backlash due to concerns that Battle’s impact on the stage had been undervalued (Broadway League, 2024).

Jason Lacks, President of the Broadway League, announced the change in a news release. In it, he expressed that “after further consultation among the Committee of Theatre Owners,” all 41 Broadway theaters will dim their lights in honor of Battle at 6:45 pm for one minute (Broadway League, 2024).

Battle’s impressive career includes three Tony Awards for his roles in “Sophisticated Ladies” (1981), “The Tap Dance Kid” (1984), and “Miss Saigon” (1991) (Broadway League, 2024). Known for his debut role as the scarecrow in the musical “The Wiz” at just 18 years old (Broadway League, 2024), Battle’s impact on Broadway was both significant and enduring.

A long-standing Broadway tradition involves dimming the theater marquee lights to pay tribute to industry legends who have passed away (Playbill, n.d.). The Broadway League, a trade association consisting of theater owners and producers, determines which individuals receive this honor.

Throughout the years, debates have arisen concerning the League’s decision-making process for granting these tributes. In 2014, Joan Rivers was posthumously honored with a Broadway memorial despite initially being denied due to her non-Broadway career origins (Variety, 2014).

Chris Peterson, founder of OnStage, a blog dedicated to reporting Broadway industry news, highlighted the importance of establishing consistent criteria for determining who should receive these honors. “For someone as iconic and trailblazing as Hinton Battle, who achieved so much over his career, not to have this honor automatically – not even a second thought – is preposterous,” Peterson said (Peterson, 2023).

Peterson went on to explain that the Broadway community was left without any notice or memorial for Battle’s passing for weeks (Peterson, 2023). “It’s infuriating that, despite the ease and significance of this tribute, there isn’t a consistent policy in place to honor these individuals properly,” he stated.

When reached for comment, the Broadway League did not respond to News Finder’s request (News Finder, 2024).

Despite the delay in recognizing Battle’s contributions, Peterson remains optimistic. “I am thrilled for his family and friends that he will finally receive the honor he always deserved,” he shared (Peterson, 2023). Hopefully, this serves as a reminder for the industry to do better in honoring those who have significantly shaped its landscape.

– Broadway League (2024). News Release: All Broadway Theatres to Dim Lights in Honor of Hinton Battle.
– Playbill (n.d). Broadway’s Marquee Memorials: Honoring Legends in the Theatre World.
– Variety (2014). Broadway to Dim Lights for Joan Rivers.
– Peterson, Chris (2023). A Tribute to Hinton Battle: Broadway’s Missed Opportunity for Consistency.
– News Finder (2024). Broadway Theatres to Dim Lights in Honor of Late Actor Hinton Battle. News