The 2020 Tony Awards Nominations

Arabella Brown, Staff Writer

Due to the global pandemic, Broadway has been dark since early March. This closure has affected theater in a drastic way, and the 74th Tony Awards is included in that. Originally, there were plans for a live Grease sing-along event to replace this year’s awards ceremony, but the Tony Awards Committee eventually decided that holding the annual ceremony was the right thing to do. Due to the closure in March, the Tony Awards Board decided only shows that opened this awards season before February 19, 2020, would be eligible for the Tony Awards. This left 18 productions eligible, with only 4 being musicals, and the rest plays. While 18 shows may sound like a lot, in a normal season there can be anywhere from 30 to 40 eligible productions.
Of the four musicals eligible this year, Jagged Little Pill, based on Alanis Morisette’s album by the same name, garnered the most nominations with 15. Moulin Rouge!, based on the 2001 movie musical, garnered 14. Lastly, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, garnered 12. However, there was one other show eligible this year, The Lightning Thief, based on the Percy Jackson book series. To theater fans across the world, it was a shock to find out The Lightning Thief had not been nominated for a single Tony Award. A big reason for the confusion was that The Lightning Thief is the only eligible musical with an original score. The other 3 shows are jukebox musicals, which are musicals who’s songs are composed of songs that already exist. For example, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical uses only the songs of Tina Turner to tell the story.
The Lightning Thief not getting a single nomination also caused a ripple effect in the Best Performance By a Leading Male Actor category. Chris McCarrell of The Lightning Thief and Aaron Tveit of Moulin Rouge! are the only two lead male actors from shows this season. With the absence of nominations for The Lightning Thief, this leaves Aaron Tveit as the only nominee in the category. What’s even more confusing, he could still not win. If less than 60% of the Tony voters don’t vote for him, he won’t win the award. So, while it is likely Aaron Tveit will win considering he is the only nominee, there is still the outrageous possibility that he might not win.
14 plays were eligible for this year’s Tony Awards. Slave Play took the lead in play nominations with 12, followed by The Inheritance with 11. Slave Play now holds the record for most nominations received by a play in Tony Award history. Among other eligible plays are Sea Wall/A Life, Betrayal, and A Soldier’s Play. A big change this year is the eligibility for the Best Original Score category. Due to the 3 nominated musicals all being jukebox musicals, none of them were nominated for Best Original Score. For the first time in history, only plays have been nominated for Best Original Score.
While the date of the 2020 Tony Awards has not been confirmed yet, it is likely it will happen sometime in December or even possibly early in January 2021. When asked about whether or not the 2020 Tony Awards should have been held or held off until the next season when more shows would be eligible, Isabella Nazario (10) said, “I think they should have waited, but at least they’re doing it as a live stream.” Regardless, hopefully, the 2020 Tony Awards will be a night of joy and relaxation for the theater community during this hectic time.