The Tony Awards Are Back. Here’s What To Expect.

Although Broadway exhibits are returning, opening and beginning previews, audiences — and firms — won’t ever be the identical.

The neighborhood has misplaced members just like the actor Nick Cordero and the Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally to the coronavirus. At the very least seven performs written by Black artists are set to open on Broadway levels this season. And the business is unsure if audiences are snug sufficient to sit down shoulder to shoulder in a theater, even vaccinated and masked.

The Broadway League and American Theater Wing wish to the 74th Tony Awards, happening on the Winter Backyard Theater on Sunday, to assist with that. Initially scheduled for June 7, 2020, the awards have been delayed — and delayed once more, after nominations have been introduced final October — in an try and bolster a pandemic-hobbled business. Right here’s a have a look at how we received right here after a lot uncertainty.

It’s been greater than a yr and a half since that fateful day — March 12, 2020 — when the curtain got here down on all 31 performs and musicals operating on Broadway. Initially purported to final simply 32 days, the suspension knocked out 16 deliberate spring 2020 openings, from March 12 (“Six,” which was simply hours from its opening night time) to April 23 (when “Take Me Out” was scheduled to open).

Because it turned clear the coronavirus was going to be with us for some time, the Tonys have been postponed indefinitely, till Broadway reopened. (Our chief critics gave out their very own awards anyway, discovering lots to have a good time.)

Practically a month into the shutdown, the reopening date for Broadway was pushed to June. Then, in August, got here the announcement that the Tony Awards would go forward, albeit on-line. The awards directors debated combining the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons for one televised ceremony in 2021, however determined towards that over concern that it could not be honest to exhibits that opened in 2019. (In fact, they didn’t but know there wouldn’t be a 2020-21 season.)

The nominations have been introduced in October 2020, with “Jagged Little Capsule,” the Alanis Morissette jukebox musical that the New York Occasions chief critic, Jesse Inexperienced, referred to as “honest with out syrup, rousing and actual,” and “Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’s portrait of race and intercourse in America that Inexperienced referred to as “the most effective and most provocative new works to point out up on Broadway in years,” receiving probably the most nominations. “Slave Play,” which has 12, turned the most-nominated play in Tonys historical past.

However then got here November. After which December. After which a brand new yr — and nonetheless, no ceremony.

Tonys voting plans have been introduced in January, although organizers wouldn’t decide to an occasion till Broadway’s return was set. In March, 778 voters made their alternatives — greater than a yr after they’d seen most of the exhibits. Then, on Could 26, the precise, this-is-really-happening plan was introduced. And right here we’re.

This yr’s ceremony will acknowledge exhibits that opened in one of many 41 Broadway theaters from April 26, 2019, to Feb. 19, 2020. A couple of, like Ivo van Hove’s revival of “West Facet Story,” which isn’t returning to Broadway, and “Lady From the North Nation,” which is returning on Oct. 13 and was the final Broadway present to open earlier than the shutdown, aren’t eligible as a result of the League decided that not sufficient of its voters had the possibility to see them earlier than the shutdown.

The lowered variety of eligible productions — 18, down from 34 on the 2019 ceremony — additionally led to some quirks within the classes this yr. Finest revival of a musical was dropped as a result of no exhibits had opened by the Feb. 19 cutoff date (“West Facet Story” opened on Feb. 20), all of the nominees for greatest rating are performs and Aaron Tveit of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is in a one-man race within the main actor in a musical class, although he might nonetheless lose if he fails to persuade 60 p.c of voters that he deserves a statuette.

Regardless of the less nominees and classes, this yr’s Tony Awards will final 4 hours and be cut up into two elements, which can air again to again on Paramount+, CBS’s digital streaming platform, after which on CBS, which has broadcast the ceremony since 1978. (Should you don’t have a Paramount+ subscription, which you’ll want to observe the primary 22 awards, the service affords a one-week free trial.)

Starting at 7 p.m., the Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, who’s up for her seventh Tony for her work within the revival of the McNally play “Frankie and Johnny within the Clair de Lune,” will host the stay presentation of the Tony Awards on Paramount+, throughout which all of the awards besides the highest three can be offered.

At 9 p.m., the Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. will host a two-hour live performance particular, “The Tony Awards Current: Broadway’s Again!,” which can air on CBS and be accessible to stream stay and on demand on Paramount+.

It can embody performances from the three exhibits nominated for greatest musical (“Jagged Little Capsule,” “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”) and two exhibits receiving particular Tonys, “Freestyle Love Supreme” and “American Utopia”; appearances by Lin Manuel-Miranda, André De Shields (a Tony winner for “Hadestown”) and the “Pricey Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt; and the presentation of the highest three awards: greatest play, greatest revival of a play and greatest musical.

Among the many notable contenders to maintain a watch out for: Harris of “Slave Play”; Adrienne Warren, who simply would possibly win her first Tony for her mighty flip within the title function of “Tina”; Lois Smith, 90, might obtain the primary Tony of her profession for “The Inheritance”; and Danny Burstein, a seven-time nominee, might win his first statuette for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”

McDonald might break her personal document for probably the most Tonys gained by a performer for her work in a revival of McNally’s play “Frankie and Johnny within the Clair de Lune.” And if Harris wins for “Slave Play,” he would change into the primary Black playwright to take house the distinction since August Wilson in 1987 for “Fences.”

“Slave Play” can be up for greatest director, Robert O’Hara; main actress, Joaquina Kalukango; featured actors, Ato Blankson-Wooden and James Cusati-Moyer; and featured actresses, Chalia La Tour and Annie McNamara.

David Alan Grier now has 4 Tony nominations below his belt, the most recent for his featured function as a tyrannical sergeant within the revival of Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” Grier’s castmate, Blair Underwood, who performs a army lawyer investigating a homicide, might choose up a statuette of his personal for main actor in a play.

The different nominees in that class embody the first-time nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s up for his function as a younger husband and father in Nick Payne’s “A Life,” a one-man tragicomedy of affection and loss that performed as a part of a double invoice with Simon Stephens’s “Sea Wall,” that includes Tom Sturridge, who can be a nominee.

Lauren Patten was nominated in the perfect featured actress in a musical class for her breakout efficiency in “Jagged Little Capsule.” She performs a highschool pupil whose coronary heart will get damaged, resulting in an electrical rendition of “You Oughta Know” within the present’s second act.

Three particular Tony Awards, which acknowledge work exterior the normal classes, can be handed out Sunday night time, together with one for the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, a corporation began 5 years in the past by a bunch of actors and others as a device to work towards dismantling racism via theater and storytelling. The different recipients are David Byrne’s “American Utopia,” an intricately choreographed live performance by the Speaking Heads singer that Ben Brantley referred to as a “cloud-sweeping higher of a touring present,” and “Freestyle Love Supreme,” a principally improvised hip-hop present that was created, partly, by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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