Nearly a year after COVID shut down Broadway, the industry is finally getting around to deciding what was the best of the season before it closed. Today, the Tony Awards put out a statement saying that voting will take place for the 74th annual ceremony (originally meant to happen in 2020) between March 1 and March 15 of this year. The new ceremony will then happen “in coordination with the reopening of Broadway.” While Broadway is formally closed through the end of May at the moment — and is very likely to remain so for longer, at least until vaccination is widespread (the Met Opera, for instance, is betting on this September) — the Tony Awards did not specify any estimated date for when that reopening might occur and, therefore, when the Tonys themselves would take place.
The Tonys, hosted by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League, have been postponed time and again from the planned date of June 7, 2020, throughout the pandemic. Last August, Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, announced that a so-called “digital” Tonys celebration would happen that fall, indicating that CBS, which typically broadcasts the event, may no longer be involved. Last October, the Tonys announced the list of nominees, with still no date for a show announced.
The nominations themselves included a lot of love for Jagged Little Pill, Slave Play, and Moulin Rouge!. Aaron Tveit, notably, is the only lead actor in a musical nominated, so whenever the ceremony happens, he’ll probably win. Since then, shows have started to campaign in fits and starts — Moulin Rouge! did a virtual event with Variety in October; Slave Play’s Jeremy O. Harris went on Seth Meyers in December; Tina’s Adrienne Warren did a talk with The Inheritance’s Matthew López in January — with seemingly no indication of when everyone would actually be voting. Meanwhile, with CBS seemingly less interested in theater at the moment, NBC hosted its own Broadway event in December where, for instance, Jagged Little Pill showed off for the camera.
With the current plan to time the Tonys ceremony to Broadway’s reopening, it seems that the producers and theater owners who have a say in the League are hoping that they can use the event to boost ticket sales and encourage those watching at home to head back to theaters. But if they were hoping that CBS might pick up the show and air it on, say, June 6 this year — the first Sunday of the month, and the typical night of the event — bad news, the network just announced that it’s airing the Kennedy Center Honors that night instead. At this point, we’d just love an exact date for our own sake in covering this, and for everyone’s peace of mind in general — well, especially Aaron Tveit’s.