The long-delayed 74th annual Tony Awards, for shows and performances from the 2019/2020 Broadway season cut short by COVID, will take place on September 26, reconceived as a general celebration of the official reopening of Broadway earlier that month.
The Tony Awards: Broadway’s Back will not only feature the awards, but also “a live concert event, featuring superstar Broadway entertainers and Tony Award winners re-uniting on stage to perform beloved classics and celebrate the joy and magic of live theatre,” according to a statement from CBS and Tony Award Productions.
Many of the awards, presented by the Broadway League and American Theatre Wing, will be handed out in the first part of the ceremony to be screened on Paramount+ at 7 p.m. ET; from 9 p.m., on CBS itself, “the re-opening of Broadway will be further celebrated with special performances from the three Tony-nominated Best Musical contenders, followed by the live presentation of three Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical,” the statement continued. “Other winners will be celebrated throughout the broadcast.”
It is not known if the show will include references to the material hardships that many stage professionals have faced since the closedown of theater, the lobbying of government for financial support for them and for the art form more generally, and the demands for broader, systemic change from Black theater professionals.
The show announcement also follows a long period of mystery about the fate of the ceremony. Broadway was closed on March 12, 2020, hours before Six was due to have its opening night. Tony nominations for the eligible shows that opened before March 12 were originally announced in October.
The Alanis Morissette-inspired musical Jagged Little Pill and Moulin Rouge! The Musical lead the nominations, with 15 and 14 nominations apiece. Moulin Rouge’s Aaron Tveit should win lead actor in a musical because there is no one else in his category. Slave Play leads the play categories, with 12 nominations (the same number as Tina—The Tina Turner Musical), while The Inheritance has 11.
Of the shows reopening on Broadway before the awards take place, Hadestown currently leads the pack (on September 2), followed by Chicago, The Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton (September 14), Six (September 17), Come From Away (September 21), and Moulin Rouge (September 24).
Official announcements about changes to Broadway theaters, how audiences will experience them, and issues such as mandating vaccinations for Broadway audiences and workers, remain to be made.