The 2020 Tony Awards have been one of the big question marks of the coronavirus pandemic, at least in terms of the entertainment industry and its—let’s be honest—largely inoffensive and generally inspiring need to hand out awards (everybody likes awards, they’re nice). The show was delayed earlier this year while Broadway tried to figure out how to do anything with the virus still preventing people from being able to see live theater safely, but now, presumably because it simply had to be done eventually, the Tony people have announced this year’s Tony Award nominees… and some of it is pretty damn weird.
For starters (via The New York Times), there were 34 productions eligible for Tonys last year, but this year were only 18—four musicals, 10 plays, and four revivals. The Academy Awards were able to adjust their eligibility requirements to account for the pandemic, with movies that opened at drive-ins or on streaming still able to get Oscars even though that would disqualify them in a normal year. Broadway can’t really do something similar, which is how we get to 18 eligible shows for the whole year and the aforementioned weird stuff.
Take the Beast Leading Actor In A Musical category, the nominees for which include Aaron Tveit from Moulin Rouge! and… that’s it. He has no competition. Even so, The New York Times says he still has to get 60 percent of the votes in the category, so there is a chance he could run unopposed, still lose, and then that award just won’t be handed out this year. Speaking of musicals, the only new musical to premiere this year with an original score was The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, which is apparently not good and therefore didn’t get nominated for Best Score. That means the whole category is taken up by plays and no musicals. Also, the award for musical revivals was eliminated completely, since only one would’ve been eligible—a new production of West Side Story—but it opened in late February and not enough voters had a chance to see it before the shutdown.
In news that is at least more positive, Jeremy O. Harris’ acclaimed drama Slave Play has now set a record for the most-nominated show in Tonys history with an appearance in 12 categories—including Best Play, Best Original Score, Best Direction, and multiple acting categories (with multiple nominees in a few of them just for good measure). Of course, the Tonys still don’t have a date on the schedule, so nobody knows when these things will be handed out. Fun and weird! You can see the full list of nominees over at Deadline.