My friends at Variety– they’re smart people, but they just realized there probably will not be any Tony Awards this season. That’s because the coronavirus stopped the Broadway theater season in its tracks. The season, which runs from June to April, is over.
So what happens to the shows that did open? Clearly, the winner of Best Actress in a Musical would have been Adrienne Warren in the Tina Turner musical, “Tina!” She would have won even if all the other musicals had opened as planned. Warren is a spitfire on stage. When I say her performance is incendiary, people who’ve seen it know what I mean. She makes that big wheel keep on turnin’.
There were two great performances by actresses in plays. First there was Mary Louise Parker in “The Sound Inside,” which might also have won Best Play. Adam Rapp’s play, directed by David Cromer, was exceptional. It would have gone on longer but Parker had already agreed to star in a revival of “How I Learned to Drive,” which was unnecessary. I hope “The Sound Inside” can return sometime.
Laura Linney was equally sensational in “My Name is Lucy Barton.” The one woman show was a fake off because Linney- who can do anything and seemingly never wrong– also played Lucy’s mother so persuasively you would swear she was a separate actress. Based on Elizabeth Strout’s novel, the adaptation by Rona Munro gave Linney one of her greatest moments on stage (and there have been plenty). Since we can’t see this now, the only alternative is watch “Ozark” season 3 on Netflix, where Linney is on track to win the Emmy award.
As for male actors: Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles got thisclose to opening in “The Lehman Trilogy,” which had already played in New York and London, and can be seen in a television taping. There would have been nominations from “The Inheritance”– mainly John Benjamin Hickey, who might have also been nominated for directing possible nominees Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite.”
We’ll never know now what would have happened to the best show of the 2019-2020 season, David Byrne’s “American Utopia.” I suppose the Tony committee would have given it a special award, since it was Byrne using his old music. Maybe he could have won Best Actor in a Musical. The show was supposed was supposed to re-open this fall. Whenever Broadway returns, I hope David Byrne does, too.
And Best Musical? So we had “Tina,” and maybe “American Utopia,” “Moulin Rouge” (not my favorite), the still to be opened “Diana,” plus “Sing Street” and “Flying over Sunset.” Of what already opened, “Girl from the North Country” would have been my choice, with nominations for Jay O. Sanders and Mare Winningham (who was going to have to fight off Adrienne Warren) who gave the best performances of their lives.
Should we just have the awards? Why not? Everyone Zoom in on June 7th, or least hum the songs. Maybe CBS could do some kind of “Best of 2020” show with clips. But real Tony Awards? Not now.