To the host of questions surrounding the 2020 Tony Awards, we now have at least one answer: The nominations from the 2019-20 Broadway season will be announced Oct. 15 in a digital broadcast hosted by the actor James Monroe Iglehart, who won a Tony for his performance in “Aladdin.”
The Tony Nominating Committee will select the nominees in a meeting set for Oct. 13, prior to the announcement that will be streamed on the Tony Awards YouTube channel. No date has yet been set for the ceremony itself, but sources say organizers are aiming for sometime in the first half of December.
There also remain questions about what the ceremony itself will look like. It’s said that the intent is to include performance elements of some kind, and that the longtime producers of CBS’ Tony telecast (and recent producers of the socially-distanced Democratic National Convention), Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, will be involved, probably as consultants. Neither the Tony Awards nor CBS would comment on plans for the ceremony or the telecast.
The official confirmation of a Tony nominations timeline brings at least a bit of clarity to a theater awards season that has been mired in uncertainty since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Broadway in March. After several months of wondering whether the Tonys would happen at all in 2020, a virtual ceremony was announced in August with no dates or firm plan yet set. Since then, many in the industry were left wondering how and when it would all come together.
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The nominations will look a little different — or perhaps a lot different — this year than they have in previous years. Given the truncated season, many categories have fewer contenders than usual, and it will be up to the nominators to determine how many nominees will be in each category, or whether some categories should be skipped completely.
Any of the Broadway season’s productions that opened before Feb. 19 are eligible, which means the list of potential nominees includes new musicals “Jagged Little Pill,” “Moulin Rouge!,” “The Lightning Thief” and “Tina”; new plays “Slave Play,” “The Inheritance” and “The Sound Inside”; and performers including Adrienne Warren (“Tina”), Karen Olivo (“Moulin Rouge!”), Elizabeth Stanley (“Jagged Little Pill”), Audra McDonald (“Frankie and Johnny”), Mary-Louise Parker (“Sound Inside”), Tom Hiddleston (“Betrayal”), Jake Gyllenhaal (“Sea Wall/A Life”) and Blair Underwood (“A Soldier’s Play”).
There’s no word yet on whether, in addition to the competitive categories, the nominators will also announce their usual round of special awards, which include trophies for category-defying productions as well as lifetime achievement honors.
Following the nominations announcement, ballots will be sent out to voters. The pool of eligible Tony voters, which numbers around 850, will likely be smaller this year than it has been in past years, since the abbreviated season gave voters less time to catch nominated shows. (Voters are allowed to vote only in categories in which they’ve seen every contender, as determined by an official attendance record.)