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

The third 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 performers from the season, and explain the various Tonys rules for categories that may not seem particularly full. For a look at the eligible shows, click here. For a look at the eligible performers, click here.


Derek McLane's Moulin Rouge! set, complimented by Justin Townsend's lighting.
(© David Gordon)

Each of the musical categories are filled with the same four shows.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Riccardo Hernández & Lucy Mackinnon, Jagged Little Pill
Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!
Lee Savage, The Lightning Thief
Mark Thompson and Jeff Sugg, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Sydney Maresca, The Lightning Thief
Emily Rebholz, Jagged Little Pill
Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
David Lander, The Lightning Thief
Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Justin Townsend, Jagged Little Pill
Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, Jagged Little Pill
Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!
Ryan Rumery, The Lightning Thief
Nevin Steinberg, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical


The sets, costumes, and lighting of A Christmas Carol.
(© Joan Marcus)

When it comes to the plays, there are 14 options for each category.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bob Crowley, The Inheritance
Bob Crowley and Luke Hall, My Name Is Lucy Barton
Soutra Gilmour, Betrayal
Riccardo Hernández, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol
Laura Jellinek, Sea Wall/A Life
David Korins, The Great Society
Derek McLane, A Soldier's Play
Clint Ramos, Grand Horizons
Clint Ramos, Slave Play
Todd Rosenthal, Linda Vista
Anthony Ward, The Height of the Storm
Mark Wendland, The Rose Tattoo
Alexander Woodward, The Sound Inside

Best Costume Design of a Play
Dede Ayite, A Soldier's Play
Dede Ayite, Slave Play
Laura Bauer, Linda Vista
Linda Cho, The Great Society
Linda Cho, Grand Horizons
Bob Crowley, The Inheritance
Bob Crowley, My Name Is Lucy Barton
Soutra GIlmour, Betrayal
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol
David Hyman, The Sound Inside
Clint Ramos, The Rose Tattoo
Emily Rebholz, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune
Kaye Voyce and Christopher Peterson, Sea Wall/A Life
Anthony Ward, The Height of the Storm

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jiyoun Chang, Slave Play
Jon Clark, Betrayal
Jon Clark, The Inheritance
Marcus Doshi, Linda Vista
Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside
Guy Horae, Sea Wall/A Life
Allen Lee Hughes, A Soldier's Play
Natasha Katz, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune
Peter Mumford, My Name Is Lucy Barton
Jen Schriver, Grand Horizons
Ben Stanton and Lucy Mackinnon, The Rose Tattoo
Hugh Vanstone, A Christmas Carol
Hugh Vanstone, The Height of the Storm
David Weiner and Victoria Sagady, The Great Society

Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, The Inheritance
Simon Baker, A Christmas Carol
Paul Groothuis, The Height of the Storm
Palmer Hefferan, Grand Horizons
Lindsay Jones, Slave Play
Daniel Kluger, Sea Wall/A Life
Daniel Kluger, The Sound Inside
John Leonard, My Name Is Lucy Barton
Fitz Patton, The Rose Tattoo
Paul James Prendergast, The Great Society
Ben Ringham and Max Ringham, Betrayal
Dan Moses Schreier, A Soldier's Play
Nevin Steinberg, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune
Richard Woodbury, Linda Vista


Here are the rules as we know them: If there are nine eligible nominees, categories will contain five slots. If there are fewer than nine eligible nominees, categories will only have four slots.

Because there are 14 plays eligible, the play categories will have five nominees. And with only four eligible musicals, each of them, according to the rules as they stand now, can, in fact, be given a slot in their respective categories. Theoretically, that's great for a show like The Lightning Thief, which, in any other season configuration, probably wouldn't have been nominated for anything.

On the other hand, the Tonys could choose to combine plays and musicals, which is how the categories stood until 2005. That would probably affect the musicals more than the plays.


The one remaining category:

Best Orchestrations
Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill
Justin Levine, with Matt Stine, Katie Kresek and Charlie Rosen, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Christopher Nightingale, A Christmas Carol
Ethan Popp, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Rob Rokicki and Wiley DeWeese, The Lightning Thief

This category also includes A Christmas Carol, which has been ruled a play but has a lot of music in it (particularly, some beautiful renditions of Christmas carols played on handbells). But this category has more than four nominees and less than nine, which means that no more than four shows can be nominated here, unless there's a tie for the last slot.

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