“The show must go on” has been the resounding mantra for Broadway. But as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reached its apex in the U.S., New York’s famous theaters went dark for public health concerns for the first time in history. However, Broadway and lovers of the stage have found ways to keep the shows going — with acclaimed composers hosting livestreams and hit musicals getting posted online. But Broadway’s biggest night, the 2020 Tony Awards ceremony, may end up getting canceled this year.
Variety reports that the 74th annual Tony Awards ceremony, which has already been postponed from its planned June 7 date due to the coronavirus pandemic, may be scrapped altogether this year. Insiders tell Variety that discussions among the planning committee for the Tonys have come to a “standstill.”
Typically, Tony voters and the awards’ 54-member nominating committee are asked to see musicals and plays when they open, but not everyone can meet this request. April is usually the period when voters cram in the shows they missed, but with Broadway shuttering its theaters on March 12 out of abundance of caution for the pandemic, that window is closed. That makes the logistics of narrowing down nominees much more difficult.
There’s also the issue of the ceremony. While statues could be awarded over Zoom and performances can be staged much like the ones held over live-streams like Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday celebration, Broadway producers may be “wary of devoting time, resources and money to staging COVID-19-safe production numbers” while theaters are closed and no return on investment is possible, Variety reports. CBS, which broadcasts the ceremony, is reportedly disinterested in a “lo-fi” version of the show. And a lo-fi version is what will likely happen, as some estimate Broadway won’t reopen until 2021.
Variety suggests that the Tony Awards could alternatively combine the next two seasons into a single ceremony that could be held in the summer of 2021. This would allow 2019 favorites like Moulin Rouge, Jagged Little Pill, Slave Play, and The Inheritance to compete alongside upcoming highly anticipated shows like Mrs. Doubtfire: The Musical or shows that closed before they got out of previews, like Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen and the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The outlet also suggests that, if Broadway productions return in fall or winter, Broadway could host a general celebration of the stage instead of an awards ceremony to “ease the nerves of the public.”
Nothing is set in stone yet, but if the Tony’s end up canceled, it might not be long before film and TV ceremonies like the Golden Globes, Emmys, or even the Oscars might follow suit.
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