Producers of the Tony Awards have announced that the 74th annual ceremony to honor the best on Broadway will be presented digitally this year sometime in the fall, with a date and a platform that has yet to be announced.
The event had been scheduled for June 7 at New York’s Radio City Musical Hall with its usual live broadcast on CBS, but the Corona-virus shutdown of Broadway as COVID-19 exploded in New York City and around the world made that impossible.
Part of the reason for a cancellation would be logistics. While Tony voters and the awards’ 54-member nominating committee are asked to see musicals and plays when they open, not everyone can keep up. Thus, April is usually a period when voters cram in the shows they missed, which wasn’t possible this year after 31 musicals and plays abruptly went dark on March 12 to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Broadway League confirmed later in the summer that nothing would reopen before January 2021.
“Though unprecedented events cut the 2019-2020 Broadway season short, it was a year full of extraordinary work that deserves to be recognized,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theater Wing. “We are thrilled not only to have found a way to properly celebrate our artists’ incredible achievements this season, but also to be able to uplift the entire theater community and show the world what makes our Broadway family so special at this difficult time. The show must go on, no matter what – and it will.”
Since the Broadway season was cut short, Broadway League and fellow Tony organizer the American Theatre Wing stated that productions whose opening nights were on or before February 19 will be considered, which puts only 18 productions eligible. Productions with spring openings, like Six, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Girl from the North Country, will not be considered this awards season. Those musicals would have been front runners for the top prize of Best Musical, but now only four (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Moulin Rouge, The Lightning Thief, and Jagged Little Pill) are eligible. West Side Story did not open until February 20, so there will be no Best Musical Revival category, a first since the category’s inception in 1994.
Five-time Tony recipient Terrence McNally and Tony nominee Nick Cordero have lost their lives to the Corona-virus pandemic therefore this year’s “In Memoriam” performance will be especially moving.
Details on an exact date for the 2020 Tony awards has yet to be announced. If the Tony’s do not happen this year, the next logical step would be to combine the next two seasons for a single ceremony, possibly in the summer of 2021. However nothing has been announced in that regard.