2020 has been a strange year for Broadway, and the Tony Awards nominations have proven to be no exception, featuring a lack of nominations for the season’s only original musical, a historical single nomination for the Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical award and a record-setting 12 nominations for “Slave Play.”
Due to Broadway’s March 12 shutdown, this season has a limited number of shows eligible for the coveted Best Musical award. The three nominated shows, “Jagged Little Pill,” “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” are all jukebox musicals. The former two contain music from artists, such as Alanis Morissette and Tina Turner, and the latter, inspired by the 2001 film, includes a variety of songs, such as Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Tony winner Elton John’s “Your Song.”
Although the season was short on musicals, one of the four eligible shows, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” was excluded from all categories despite its eligibility for several awards, including Best Musical. “The Lightning Thief” included completely original songs but did not receive the nomination. Therefore, the Best Book of a Musical Tony will not be awarded.
“It was geared toward younger people, and that’s not really the Tony audience,” said ACTS Drama Club advisor Mrs. Jamey Wood.
Many believe that this omission was due to bias in the committee which decides the nominations.
“[Bias] is something that needs to be looked at and corrected because this is Broadway,” said senior Brycen Hart. “...if “The Lightning Thief” had the ability to go on Broadway..., then it should be acknowledged.”
Another result of this show shortage is the strange case of Aaron Tveit, the only actor nominated for the coveted Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical award. This is the first time in Tony Award history an actor has run unopposed for this award. Tveit received the nomination for starring as Christian in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a character originally portrayed by Ewan McGregor in the film. Despite being the only nominee, Tveit has not yet secured the Tony. He must receive 60 percent of the popular vote in order to officially obtain the award.
“That’s like winning because everybody forfeited,” said Mrs. Wood.
Only two actors were eligible for Best Actor: Tveit and “The Lightning Thief” star and Broadway newcomer Chris McCarrell. Tveit is admired and acclaimed in the Broadway community for his roles in “Les Miserables,” “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and other musicals, but many fans are disappointed by McCarrell’s exclusion.
“It feels like they’re snubbing the others because [Tveit]’s the only one in this category,” said Hart. “Every single other leading man is very good. It’s a disservice to them, and it’s a disservice to what the Tony Awards are about.”
Jeremy O. Harris’s “Slave Play” received a historical 12 nominations, surpassing the former record of 11. Since the show features many controversial topics, such as race, gender and sexuality, many suspect that “Slave Play” was nominated primarily for political reasons.
“If it was just nominated for the sake of those political messages, I’d say it wasn’t deserving,” said Hart. “However, if it was a good play, political messages aside, then I would say it was well deserved.”
There is no scheduled date for the 74th Annual Tony Awards.