In a Broadway season like no other, with theaters shuttered since March and now not expected to reopen until May 30th of next year, the Tony Awards will be staged virtually later this fall, honoring the plays and musicals that were able to open before the pandemic lockdown hit New York.
The musical Jagged Little Pill, based loosely on the album of the same name by Alanis Morissette, led all shows with 15 nominations, including best musical and one for its lead, Elizabeth Stanley, followed closely by Moulin Rouge: The Musical, with 14 nominations, including nods for its two stars, Karen Oliva and Aaron Tveit. (Tveit is one nominee who can rest easy on awards’ night; he was the only person nominated in his category.)
Slave Play, by Jeremy O. Harris, led all plays with 12 nominations, including best play. It was followed by The Inheritance, a seven-plus-hour play by Matthew Lopez that uses E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End as a jumping off point to explore the lives of gay New Yorkers in the midst of the AIDS crisis. It got 11 nominations.
Other notable nominees: Adrianne Warren, for best actress in a musical for her starring role in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; Laura Linney, best actress for I am Lucy Barton; Mary-Louise Parker best actress for The Sound Inside, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge, both up for best actor for Sea Wall/A Life; and three other nominees for best play: The Sound Inside, by Adam Rapp, Grand Horizons, by Bess Wohl; and Sea Wall/A Life by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne.
Prior to voting on this year’s nominations, the Broadway League and American Theatre Wing—co-presenters of the awards—determined that only productions that had opened on or before Feb. 19 would be considered eligible. (Some shows had begun previews or opened between that date and March 12, the start of the Broadway shutdown, though many nominators may not have seen them in time to be able to vote.) There were just 18 eligible shows, including four new musicals, 10 new plays and four play revivals. No musical revivals opened during the eligibility period and that award will not be given out this year.
Among the shows that had begun previews but were deemed ineligible for this year’s awards were Girl From the North Country, Six and The Minutes.
This year’s Tony Awards were originally scheduled to take place June 7 at Radio City Music Hall. The producers have not yet disclosed the date of the virtual ceremony.
Meanwhile, the Broadway League announced last week that May 30th, 2021 would be the earliest date that Broadway would now reopen, with productions most likely staggering their opening dates into the fall. “Certainly a lot of shows are making their plans, and some think we will open in the summer, and I hope they are right,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, told The New York Times. “But I think people’s bets are the fall of next year.”
Almost immediately after the statement from the League, the producers of one of the most eagerly awaited shows of the year—a revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster—announced that it would now start previews on Dec. 20, 2021 and open on Feb. 10, 2022. Earlier, the opening of another starry revival, Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, had already been moved to March 19, 2021 and was expected to run through July 18. Those dates will almost certainly now change, assuming the production goes forward.
And this week, Lincoln Center announced that two of its highly anticipated productions—Intimate Apparel, an opera by Rick Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage, based on her play of the same name, and Flying Over Sunset, a musical by James Lapine and Tom Kitt—both originally scheduled for the spring of 2021 had been moved to the fall.
Still to be announced are the plans for some of the most high-profile productions of the 2019-20 season whose runs were thwarted by coronavirus: Caroline, or Change, Company, Diana, Take Me Out, American Buffalo and Mrs. Doubtfire, which had staged just three preview performances before the state ordered all theaters to close.
St. Martin told the Times she was optimistic that Broadway would bounce back even after going dark for more than a year. “We survived the Great Depression and many other crises,” she said. “I just don’t think we live in a country or a world that wants to be about theater.”