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Tony Awards ceremony will go ahead, online
Adrienne Warren and Steven Booth in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” one of the shows that opened in the abbreviated 2019-20 Broadway season, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York, Oct. 4, 2019. Tony Awards administrators announced on Aug. 21, 2020, that they will hold an online ceremony this fall to honor shows that opened before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered Broadway. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Tony Awards administrators have decided to hold an online ceremony this fall to honor shows that opened before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered Broadway.

The American Theater Wing and the Broadway League — the two organizations that present the awards — announced the decision Friday morning.

Twenty plays and musicals opened on Broadway during the abbreviated 2019-20 season, but only the 18 shows that opened before Feb. 19 will be eligible for Tony Awards. A revival of “West Side Story” that opened Feb. 20 and the new musical “Girl From the North Country,” which opened March 5, will not be eligible because too few nominators and voters saw them before Broadway shut down March 12.

The decision comes after months of uncertainty over whether and how to recognize the work that was staged on Broadway between May 2019, when a revival of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” opened starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon, and March 2020, when the pandemic forced all 41 Broadway theaters (along with most others across the country) to close.

“Though unprecedented events cut the 2019-2020 Broadway season short, it was a year full of extraordinary work that deserves to be recognized,” Charlotte St. Martin, the Broadway League president, and Heather Hitchens, the American Theater Wing president, said.

Tony administrators and rule-makers will meet next week to discuss what to do about categories — like original score and leading actor in a musical — in which there are few eligible competitors, because awards officials want to be sure they are recognizing merit.

The award administrators are hoping to be able to stream a ceremony in late October, but the date remains uncertain, as do many other specifics: What site will it stream on? Will there be a socially distanced in-person ceremony, or will it all be remote? Will there be a host? Will there be performances? Will there be noncompetitive honors for individuals or shows? And how will the ceremony be financed, given that most of the traditional revenue sources (ticket sales, sponsorship and licensing fees) are gone?

The Tony Awards were established in 1947. This year’s ceremony was originally scheduled to take place June 7 at Radio City Music Hall.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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