The 2020 Tony Awards: predictions for an awards show that shouldn’t happen


The 74th Annual Tony Awards will be streamed on Paramount+ on Sunday, September 26th at 7 p.m.

One of the biggest losses in the entertainment industry during the coronavirus pandemic was that of live theatre. I have spent a lot of time in Broadway theaters enjoying the magic that is a live on-stage performance. I am so excited that live theatre is making its triumphant return to New York City with the 2020 Tony Awards, but I don’t think the show should be happening.

The Annual Antoinette Perry, or Tony, Awards honor the achievements of performers on Broadway. There are multiple categories honoring both musical and straight play productions, their designers and cast members. When Broadway shut down in March 2020, it was hard to tell if the Tonys were going to happen since not many shows had opened before the shutdown and within the nomination eligibility time frame. However, on October 15, 2020, the nominations were announced proving that the American Theatre Wing was determined to make do with the handful of shows they had to work with.

I think that the Tony Awards should have waited a year and instead had the 2020-2021 Tony Awards to combine both years’ seasons so that more new shows would be open and be eligible. There are only 16 shows nominated this year as opposed to in 2019 when 25 shows were nominated. The issue of no new shows is prominent for the musical categories since there are only three shows nominated. Each nominated show uses music that was not specifically written for the show, thus eliminating the “Best Original Score.”

It is also unfair that the Tony Awards are only able to be streamed on Paramount+ as opposed to a CBS primetime special like usual. In a time when theatre was lost and promised to come back in a more inclusive way, I find it completely hypocritical that theatre fans have to pay to watch the return of their favorite art form.

In fact, it took The American Theatre Wing an entire year to decide how they were going to do the show. The nominees were announced in October 2020 but the actual show was not planned to happen until September 2021. If the Tony Awards had been postponed and combined with next year’s awards ceremony in June 2022, a larger variety of shows would be included and the show would likely be more accessible for audiences.

For those who will be able to watch them, here are my predictions for what shows will win.

Best Play
For Best Play, I see Jeremy O’Harris’ Slave Play winning not only Best Play but maybe a few more awards. It is big, it is controversial, it drew stars like Harry Styles and Zendaya to go see it and it made Jeremy O’Harris a star. This show will win big, and he will be doing so much more in the theatre world.

Best Musical
The Best Musical category is going to be a close competition since there are only three shows nominated. However, I can see Moulin Rouge! taking home this award. It is based on the 2001 movie with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, and it is nothing but big and flashy while being full of popular music. I think this show will win big and become an instant Broadway classic.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

I believe the Tony Award in this category will go to Jake Gyllenhaal for his role in Sea Wall/ A Life. Gyllenhaal is an Academy Award-nominated actor who, during the second act of this play, is onstage by himself captivating the audience for an hour alone. He is a veteran to the stage, and I believe this will be the role that lands him the Tony.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Personally, I am not terribly familiar with any of the shows or women nominated in this category except for Audra McDonald. She has won multiple Tonys before and is an incredible performer. I would not be surprised if she adds another Tony for her performance in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune to her collection.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Due to the small number of shows that were eligible this year, only Aaron Tveit from Moulin Rouge! is nominated for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Even in a normal year with more competition, however, I still think he would win. Tveit is an incredible performer with a phenomenal voice.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

This category may only have three nominees, but I think it may be a close competition between two of them. Karen Olivo has a great chance of winning for her incredible performance in Moulin Rouge!, but I personally believe that it will go to Adrienne Warren for the titular role in Tina-The Tina Turner Musical. Warren’s transformation into Tina Turner in both looks and sound is incredible. During the 2019 Tony Awards, Stephanie J. Block took this exact award home for playing Cher in The Cher Show, and I can see the same thing happening this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

I would not be surprised if Ato Blankson-Wood or James Cusati-Moyer from Slave Play or David Alan Grier from A Soldier’s Play took home the Tony for Best Featured Actor. It would also not be surprising if Lois Smith took home the Tony for Best Featured Actress for The Inheritance.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

I believe that Danny Burnstein will take home the Tony in this category for his performance in Moulin Rouge! I was lucky enough to see Burnstein as the lead in Fiddler on the Roof a few years ago, and he was incredible. I am sure his performance in Moulin Rouge! is just as good, if not better than the last time I saw him perform. He truly deserves to win a Tony and be recognized as a theatre legend.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

There are five women nominated for this award and three of them are nominated for the show Jagged Little Pill. The show, which is made up entirely of Alanis Morissette music, is best known for their version of the song “You Oughta Know” as performed by Lauren Patten, who is nominated for Best Featured Actress. I believe that Patten will win because of how she owns the stage during that song and leaves everyone speechless.

Even though the Tony Awards might be a mess this year, I am still very excited for them to finally occur and to celebrate the reopening of Broadway after a long shutdown.

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Twitter: @EllenFrantzTWW