The 2019-2020 Tony Awards will take place Sept. 26, 2021, in a two-part event airing across different CBS platforms.
A presentation of awards will air at 7 p.m. EST Sept 26. on Paramount+, the newly rebranded streaming platform owned by ViacomCBS. At 9 p.m. EST, CBS will air a special entitled “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” which will feature performances from the Tony-nominated Best Musicals and a live presentation of the Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical.
Organizers expect the event to take place in a Broadway theater, in front of a live audience, according to an email sent to League members Wednesday. In recent years, the Tony Awards ceremony has been held at Radio City Music Hall.
The CBS special, which will also be available on Paramount+ and the CBS app, will feature performances of “beloved classics” sung by Broadway stars and Tony Award winners. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are returning as executive producers of the special and Weiss will also serve as director.
The Tony Awards ceremony comes close to a year after nominations were announced and six months after Tony Awards voting took place.
The ceremony for the 2019-2020 season was originally scheduled to take place at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2020, but was postponed by the pandemic. Organizers then planned for voting on a shortened season, with an eligibility cut-off date of Feb. 19, 2020, and a digital broadcast in fall 2020. Nominations were announced Oct. 15, 2020.
As the Broadway reopening timeline shifted, the ceremony date was moved later. Voting for the 18 eligible productions took place from March 1 to March 15. At that time, organizers said the timing for the ceremony would be planned “in coordination with the re-opening of Broadway,” as they are seen as a means to revitalize interest in the industry and promote ticket buying.
Broadway performances are now set to resume Sept. 2 with the return of “Hadestown.” Additional shows, including “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King” are scheduled to follow Sept. 14 and many more have announced dates this fall.
The Tony Award nominations were led by “Jagged Little Pill” and “Moulin Rouge!” with “Slave Play” garnering a historic 12 nominations. The shortened season created unique circumstances for the nominations, resulting in only three nominees for Best Musical, a Best Score category that only includes plays and “Moulin Rouge’s!” Aaron Tveit as the only nominee in the category of Best Leading Actor in a Musical.
The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, presenters of the Tony Awards, brokered a deal with CBS in 2017 to air the Tony Awards on the network through 2026. This is the first time the ceremony will air on its subscription streaming platform Paramount+, which relaunched March 4.
“After this devastating past year and a half for our industry, our city and for the entire world, we are excited to finally be able to celebrate the return of Broadway, our Tony Award nominees and winners in this new and exciting format,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “There is nothing that compares to the magic of live theater—and we are thrilled to be able to share its celebratory return and the incredible talent and artistry of the abbreviated 2019-2020 season with theatre fans everywhere.”
The Tony Awards ceremony has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The 1956 ceremony was the first to be broadcast and the awards have largely been televised since, with exceptions due to labor strikes and a radio-only broadcast in 1966.
ViacomCBS, the parent company to the CBS network, has not broken out specific numbers for Paramount+, but reported 36 million global subscribers across both Paramount+ and its Showtime platform in the first quarter of 2021. This follows flagging ratings for the Tony Awards broadcast on CBS, with the 2019 ceremony hitting a five-year low of 5.4 million total viewers.
“With the combined power of CBS and Paramount+, the show will honor this year’s Tony Award nominees and winners in a new format unlike any other, and celebrate the iconic music, memorable performances and unique personalities that make Broadway so special,” said Jack Sussman, CBS’ executive vice president of specials, music, live events and alternative programming.