It’s almost time for the 2021 Tony Awards. Yes, Broadway’s biggest night is finally back. And because of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), this year’s awards ceremony will look very different from previous years. For starters, Broadway was dark for over a year. So the Tony nominated shows opened in 2019. But the Tonys show in 2021 will also differ greatly from the typical structure of the show. Here’s what to expect in terms of performing live Broadway shows at the 2021 Tony Awards.
Reeve Carney and the cast of “Hadestown” perform on stage during the 2019 Tony Awards | Theo Wargo / Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Here’s how to watch the 2021 Tony Awards
Broadway shows didn’t start in New York City until September 2021. While the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, etc all figured out how to stage virtual ceremonies and get their employees back to work safely, Broadway theaters and producers decided not to use virtual Tonys in 2020 and waited for COVID-19 – Vaccines are available to reopen shows. Part of the length of the Broadway shutdown was also due to government decisions.
To make up for lost time, the Tony Awards on September 26th will have a four-hour broadcast in two parts on two different platforms. The event is officially called The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back! and the American Theater Wing’s 74th Annual Tony Awards. The first two hours will be moderated by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald and broadcast exclusively on Paramount +. This is the evening’s official awards show, which runs from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
The second half of The Tonys is hosted by Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. and aired on CBS and Paramount +. It will also feature the performances of the 2021 Tony Awards. Both events will take place live from the Winter Garden Theater in Manhattan.
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2021 Tony Awards appearances by nominees
Odom is hosting Broadway’s back portion of the night. Broadway’s Back will be like a live concert. The three nominees for the best musical are Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge! and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. And instead of performing live as usual, their appearances were filmed. These filmed performances will be broadcast during Broadway’s Back.
Since COVID-19 has completely stopped the 2019-2020 season, no musical resumes could be opened. The category “Best Revival of a Musical” does not exist at this year’s Tony Awards. And of course there won’t be any revival performances. The winners for Best Musical, Best Play, and Best Play Revival will be announced during Broadway’s Back.
The cast and crew of “Hadestown” accept the award for the best musical on stage at the Tony Awards 2019 | Theo Wargo / Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
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‘Broadway’s Back’ appearances at the 2021 Tony Awards
The second special will feature performances by Broadway alums. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth will perform a song by Wicked. McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell will sing a number from ragtime. And other Broadway’s Back cast members include David Byrne and the cast of American Utopia, a reunion with Hairspray, John Legend and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the cast of Freestyle Love Supreme.
Jon Batiste, Stephanie J. Block, Tituss Burgess, Jordan Fisher, Andrew Garfield, Lea Salonga, Jake Gyllenhaal (who is nominated for three Tonys this year) and other stars will perform during the broadcast.
The last Tony Awards took place in 2019. Hadestown was named Best Musical. Oklahoma! was awarded as the best revival of a musical. The ferryman won the best game. And The Boys In the Band won Best Play Revival.