Broadway Dims Marquees for 3-Time Tony Winner Hinton Battle March 12 | Playbill

Obituaries Broadway Dims Marquees for 3-Time Tony Winner Hinton Battle March 12

Known for creating the role of the Scarecrow in the original company of The Wiz, Mr. Battle died January 30 at the age of 67.

Hinton Battle in The Tap Dance Kid Martha Swope

The lights of Broadway will dim in honor of late three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle March 12. Marquees will dim for one minute beginning at 6:45 PM. Mr. Battle died January 30 at the age of 67.

This particular marquee dimming, one of the theatre industry's most prestigious honors, comes after some controversy. Mr. Battle died the same day as fellow Tony-winning Broadway legend Chita Rivera, who quickly had her own marquee dimming ceremony announced and ultimately carried out before any word of a similar move for Mr. Battle was announced.

Following online outcry from theatre fans and industry members alike, a social media announcement from the Broadway League revealed that Mr. Battle would get a dimming once a date could be chosen in consultation with his family. The March 1 announcement of that date came with the additional news that only nine theatres would participate in the ceremony, with participants including some but not all theatres owned and operated by The Shubert Organization, The Nederlander Organization, and Roundabout Theatre Company, along with the sole Broadway houses controlled by Lincoln Center Theater, Second Stage Theater, and Manhattan Theatre Club.

This decision, too, was met with online criticism, moving the theatre owners to reverse course March 2, when a full dimming ceremony was announced "after further consultation among the Committee of Theatre Owners," according to a statement. Marquee dimming is typically done by all Broadway theatres as organized by The Broadway League, though select theatres can elect to do an individual dimming in situations where the League is unable to secure the participation of all theatre owners.

No formal criteria defining what makes someone eligible for a marquee dimming ceremony upon their death has ever been made public. This is likely because developing such a criteria would be incredibly difficult if not outright impossible. Theatre owners likely want to preserve the tradition's honor and esteem by limiting it to true titans of the industry. But the markers of that status can and often are completely different in each individual case, making the ultimate decision subjective and at the sole discretion of theatre owners, and somewhat mysterious to everyone else.

At the age of 18, Mr. Battle made his Broadway debut as the original Scarecrow in The Wiz, receiving momentous acclaim for his energetically-athletic dance style. He would later go on to work with some of the most influential choreographers in the industry, including Bob Fosse in the original production of Dancin' and Michael Bennett in the original production of Dreamgirls.

Mr. Battle received an impressive three Tony Awards for originating three vastly varied roles: in Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid, and Miss Saigon. He won Best Featured Actor in a Musical for all three roles, making him the most-awarded actor in the category's history.

Read Mr. Battle's full Playbill obituary here.

The Broadway League is the national trade association for the Broadway industry representing more than 700 members from nearly 200 national and international markets, including theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theatre industry.

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