chief theater critic
The American Theater Wing and the Broadway League are calling tonight’s ceremony the 75th annual Tony Awards but, as our colleague Michael Paulson has pointed out, that’s not quite true. It hasn’t been annual; there were no awards in 2020.
That’s because of the pandemic, of course, which shut down Broadway from March 12, 2020 until Bruce Springsteen reopened his “Springsteen on Broadway” on Jun 26, 2021. That was 15 months of dark stages.
I expect tonight’s presentation will acknowledge that, as well as Broadway’s fitful reopening, in ways both direct and indirect. Direct: nods to the understudies, standbys, swings, Covid monitors and others who kept shows going when it seemed an almost impossible task. Indirect: Some of the content being honored got to Broadway because the closures cleared the ground for authors, work and styles rarely seen there before.
I mean, we’d have seen “MJ,” the Michael Jackson jukebox, regardless. But I wonder if we’d have “A Strange Loop,” even with its Pulitzer Prize, on Broadway, and up for 11 awards, without the pandemic burning things down a bit. Or “Trouble in Mind,” which is up for best revival of a play. Or “Dana H.” Or “Is This a Room.” I hope so but…