How Theatre Award Ceremonies Are Handling the Coronavirus Shutdown

Awards   How Theatre Award Ceremonies Are Handling the Coronavirus Shutdown
 
From the Tonys to the Obies, here’s what’s happening with the spring awards season.
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The 2018 Tony Awards Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep New York stages empty, questions linger over the awards season. The spring rush usually culminates in the Tony Awards, though now, Broadway performances have been canceled through at least September 6.

As a result, various awards committees have readjusted their plans to commemorate the impacted 2019–2020 season.

See below for the current status of several theatre awards, including new nomination and ceremony dates, eligibility details, and virtual alternatives.

The Bessie Awards
The Bessie Committee has determined that its 2020 awards will continue to honor both dance and performance, though in light of cancellations and pushes to streaming, any program that was scheduled to be performed live between March 16 and June 1 and was instead reformatted for live digital presentation will be considered eligible.

The Chita Rivera Awards
The May 17 ceremony honoring dancers and choreographers was postponed, with a new date to be announced later in the year.

The Drama Desk Awards
The Drama Desk will continue with its 65th annual awards as scheduled; nominations were announced April 21 on Stars in the House at 2 PM. However, the May 31 ceremony will now take place on NY1, with winners announced on the network’s On Stage program instead of at The Town Hall.

The Drama League Awards
The 2020 Drama League Awards were “re-envisioned” as the Gratitude Awards, acting instead as a fundraiser for members of the theatre community affected by the pandemic. Recipients were celebrated April 30 in an online broadcast, during which time nominees for the 86th annual Drama League Artistic Awards were revealed, including those up for the coveted Distinguished Performance Award.

The Lucille Lortel Awards
The Off-Broadway celebration was held online this year. Nominations were announced April 14 on Playbill, with recipients revealed May 3. Among the big winners were Octet and Heroes of the Fourth Turning, which took home Outstanding Musical and Outstanding play, respectively.

The New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards
Playwrights Horizons’ productions of Heroes of the Fourth Turning and A Strange Loop were named winners April 16; they were presented with their awards on the April 29 8 PM installment of Stars in the House, the daily live streaming web series from Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley benefiting The Actors Fund.

The Obie Awards
The 2020 ceremony had been delayed and will now take place virtually June 4. Cole Escola will host the YouTube event, featuring pre-recorded acceptance speeches, a performance from Merrily We Roll Along alums, and more. The American Theatre Wing (a co-presenter of the awards with The Village Voice) has established a relief fund for artists impacted by canceled productions, which will distribute grants of $500 to Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway artists.

The Off Broadway Alliance Awards
Winners for the 10th annual awards, including Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop, Lucas Hnath’s Dana H., and Aaron Posner’s Life Sucks, were announced May 19. The non-profit considered Off-Broadway works in the 2019–2020 season that opened by March 11, and is eyeing an in-person celebration for the recipients in the fall.

The Olivier Awards
Though the April 5 U.K. ceremony was canceled, a television special highlighting Olivier moments from past years aired on ITV that day instead. The network intends to broadcast a new ceremony announcing the winners this fall.

The Outer Critics Circle Awards
The OCC reworked its 70th annual ceremony; in lieu of presenting winners in a competitive format, the 2020 awards celebrated up to five honorees in each of the 26 categories. Moulin Rouge! led the honorees, announced May 11, and four playwrights received the John Gassner Award: Catya McMullen for Georgia Mertching Is Dead, Will Arbery for Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Alexis Scheer for Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, and Eboni Booth for Paris.

The Pulitzer Prizes
A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson became the 10th musical to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama May 5 (the announcement was initially scheduled for April 20). The ceremonial luncheon, typically held in May, has been moved to the fall.

The Theatre World Awards
The 76th annual ceremony highlighting Broadway and Off-Broadway newcomers, originally scheduled for June 1, has been postponed and will likely take place in the fall.

The Tony Awards
The 74th annual ceremony, originally slated for June 7, has been put on hold indefinitely. Rescheduling and new eligibility details will be announced once the industry has a better sense of when productions will resume.

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