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Predicting the Tonys: A Guide to the Shows Eligible in This Very Strange Season

The first in a three-part series about how the 2020 Tony Awards could shake out.

The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing have announced that they will present the 2020 Tony Awards this year after all, in a digital format. Details are scarce, but here's what we know: The newly determined cutoff date will be February 19, and therefore, the last two shows to open before the shutdown, West Side Story and Girl From the North Country, will not be eligible (the reason being they didn't invite enough voters to see them), nor will Six, which was supposed to open the night theaters closed.

Still, there are 18 productions and dozens of worthy actors and designers left to get nominated in 26 categories. Here, we look at the eligible shows, writers, directors, and choreographers from the season, and explain the various Tonys rules for categories that may not seem particularly full.


Antonio Cipriano, Lauren Patten, Elizabeth Stanley, Celia Rose Gooding, Sean Allan Krill, Derek Klena, and Kathryn Gallagher in Jagged Little Pill.
(© Matthew Murphy)

Best Musical

Eligible shows:

Jagged Little Pill
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

With only four productions eligible in this category, the committee only has to nominate three of them, unless the "difference in votes between the third highest ranked show and the fourth highest ranked show is ten percent or less." At which point, a fourth will be added.


Best Play

Ashley Park, Michael Urie, Jane Alexander, and James Cromwell in Grand Horizons.
(© Joan Marcus)

Eligible shows:

A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne
Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl
Linda Vista by Tracy Letts
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and Rona Munroe
Sea Wall/A Life by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne
Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris
The Great Society by Robert Schenkkan
The Height of the Storm by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp

Because there are more than nine eligible shows, there will be five nominees in this category.


A scene from West Side Story.
(© Jan Versweyveld)

Best Revival of a Musical

Without West Side Story, there are no shows eligible for this category and it will probably be deleted — unless, of course, they move the cutoff by a day.


Best Revival of a Play

Zawe Ashton, Charlie Cox, and Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal.
(© Marc Brenner)

Eligible Shows:

Betrayal
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
The Rose Tattoo
A Soldier's Play

Once again, with only four productions eligible in this category, the committee only has to nominate three of them, unless the "difference in votes between the third highest ranked show and the fourth highest ranked show is ten percent or less."


Adrienne Warren in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.
(© Manuel Harlan)

Best Book of a Musical

Eligible Shows:

Jagged Little Pill by Diablo Cody
Moulin Rouge! by John Logan
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical by Joe Tracz
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical by Katori Hall

There's no "three out of four" rule for any categories other than Best Show. So theoretically, all four of these books can be nominated.


A scene from The Lightning Thief on Broadway
(© Jeremy Daniel)

Best Score

Eligible Shows:

The Lightning Thief, music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki

This is the only original score from the musicals that are eligible. Two things can happen. They can nominate it and voters can award The Lightning Thief the Best Score Tony by default (the last time this happened was in 1996, when Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton won for Sunset Boulevard, with no other nominees in the category). They could also choose to nominate the incidental music from any of the plays that are eligible. This is one of the most interesting categories this year.


Karen Olivo and Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge!
(© Matthew Murphy)

Best Director of a Musical

Eligible Artists:

Stephen Brackett, The Lightning Thief
Phyllida Lloyd, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Diane Paulus, Jagged Little Pill
Alex Timbers, Moulin Rouge!

All four of these directors can be nominated, because, once again, there's no "three out of four" rule.


Marisa Tomei and Emun Elliott in The Rose Tattoo.
(© Joan Marcus)

Best Director of a Play

Eligible Artists:

Arin Arbus, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune
Dexter Bullard, Linda Vista
Carrie Cracknell, Sea Wall/A Life
David Cromer, The Sound Inside
Trip Cullman, The Rose Tattoo
Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance
Richard Eyre, My Name Is Lucy Barton
Jonathan Kent, The Height of the Storm
Kenny Leon, A Soldier's Play
Jamie Lloyd, Betrayal
Robert O'Hara, Slave Play
Bill Rauch, The Great Society
Leigh Silverman, Grand Horizons
Matthew Warchus, A Christmas Carol

There will be five nominees in this category, as the number of eligible artists is greater than nine.


Elizabeth Stanley and Heather Lang in Jagged Little Pill.
(© Matthew Murphy)

Best Choreography

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Jagged Little Pill
Lizzi Gee, A Christmas Carol
Patrick McCollum, The Lightning Thief
Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!
Anthony Van Laast, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Because there are fewer than nine eligible artists, there only be four nominees in this category, unless there is a tie among candidates for the last slot.


Tomorrow, we will look at the acting categories, which offer a wide swath of potential nominees.


Editor's Note: This story was originally published with the headline "Handicapping the Tonys," a reference to the act of creating scoring advantages in competitions. After much reflection and consideration, we recognize the current negative connotations of the word and have amended it. We apologize for any harm this word choice may have caused.

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