When are the Tony Awards? We’re so glad you asked!
The Tony Awards, which each year honor the best plays and musicals staged on Broadway, are Sunday night.
The main event, with lots of song-and-dance numbers between the prizes, is at 8 p.m. Eastern, and will be televised on CBS and streamed on Paramount+. And before that, starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, is a preshow at which a number of awards for creative work, such as design, will be handed out. That will stream on Pluto TV.
This year is going to be different from the usual in several ways.
First, the ceremony will take place in a new location: the United Palace, a former movie house in Washington Heights, which is one of Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhoods. The reasons for the move are predominantly financial; the United Palace proved much less expensive to rent than Radio City Music Hall, where the show often takes place.
Second, screenwriters are on strike, and that strike initially threatened to disrupt the Tonys as it has disrupted other televised awards shows. In order to secure an agreement from the Writers Guild of America not to picket the telecast, the Tony Awards had to pledge not to use any scripted writing during the awards ceremony. The result is that there will be more singing, and less talking, than in normal years.
The broadcast will be hosted for a second consecutive year by Ariana DeBose, who this year, because of the absence of writers, is expected to dance more and to make fewer jokes. She won an Academy Award last year for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake, and she was nominated for a Tony Award in 2018 as one of three actresses playing Donna Summer in the jukebox musical “Summer.” This year’s Tonys preshow will be hosted by Julianne Hough (“POTUS”) and Skylar Astin (“Spring Awakening”).
Each of the five shows nominated for best musical will do a song — that’s “& Juliet,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “New York, New York,” “Shucked” and “Some Like It Hot.” And all four shows nominated for best musical revival will also perform — that’s “Camelot,” “Into the Woods,” “Parade” and “Sweeney Todd.”
But wait, there’s more! Lea Michele is going to lead a number from the revival of “Funny Girl” that opened a year ago. The cast of “A Beautiful Noise,” a jukebox musical about Neil Diamond, will also perform. And Joaquina Kalukango, one of last year’s Tony winners, will sing a song to accompany the In Memoriam segment.
Why do the Tonys matter?
Broadway is still struggling to recover from the lengthy coronavirus shutdown — attendance remains 17 percent below prepandemic levels — and producers view the Tony Awards as an important way to introduce a large audience to the newest shows.
Also, the Tonys are a way to lift up theater as an art form, often boosting the careers of the artists involved. Wins and nominations help plays get staged at regional theaters and taught in colleges, and telecast performances help musicals sell tickets and tour.
The Tony Awards, named for the actress and philanthropist Antoinette Perry, are presented by the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing. The winners are chosen by voters — there are 769 of them this year — who are mostly industry insiders: producers, investors, actors, writers, directors, designers and many others with theater-connected lives and livelihoods.
This Sunday’s ceremony will be the 76th Tony Awards.