The 74th Tony Awards and COVID-19

Kayla Katounas

After Broadway shut down on March 12 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there was a lot of confusion surrounding the rest of the season. Now that the shutdown has been extended into 2021, it has created many questions to be answered about this year’s Tony Awards ceremony. While there is still no word on the date, or how they will deal with alterations to categories from their lack of nominees, we do know that there will be a ceremony.

The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and American Theater Wing.  Charlotte St. Martin and Heather Hitchens, presidents of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing respectively, announced that “Though unprecedented events cut the 2019-2020 Broadway season short, it was a year full of extraordinary work that deserves to be recognized.” They continued by saying, “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.”

A revival of West Side Story premiered on February 20,  and the Bob Dylan based musical Girl From the North Country premiered on March 5. Even though both opened before the shutdown, not enough nominators saw them to be considered eligible. As a result, only shows that premiered on Broadway prior to February 19 will be considered eligible for nominations. 

In 2019, there were 34 productions eligible for nominations, this year, there are only 18. With only four musicals and 14 plays, nominations for each category will be very different. No musical revivals have opened aside from West Side Story, so the category for best revival of a musical will most likely be cut from the ceremony. The Lightning Thief is the only musical eligible for best original score, and the only actors up for lead actor in a musical are Aaron Tviet (Moulin Rouge!) and Chris McCarrell (The Lightning Thief). This means that many popular categories will have to be altered.

All of the possible cuts to categories can leave a person wondering if the Tony-winning productions from this year, particularly the musicals, will receive as much respect as winners in years past. Will they feel rewarded for their talent, or will they feel as though the awards were handed to them simply because there was nobody else to hand them to?

Despite the uncertainty, Broadway has made it clear that “The show must go on, no matter what — and it will.”