Lauren Patten in “Jagged Little Pill.” (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
By Matthew Wexler
The Broadway community sent up flairs when CBS announced that the network would be airing a Grease sing-a-long to fill the June 7 timeslot vacated by the absence of the 2020 Tony Awards. With most of the season canceled due to COVID-19 (only a few shows opened, including Jagged Little Pill and West Side Story), it was clear that the most coveted award for live theater would be but a ghostlight this season. CBS opted for a ratings gameplay, rather than celebrating Broadway. Not to be outdone, several sources are raising the curtain to ensure that the neon lights stay bright on Broadway — even if nobody is there.
Broadway On Demand, the newly launched streaming platform for theater devotees, with support from the Co-Producers of the Tony Awards: the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, will host a specially created, never-before-seen event in celebration of the Broadway community, the Tony Awards, and the global impact that Broadway has as a cultural touchstone around the world on Sunday, June 7 at 6 p.m. ET exclusively on TonyAwards.com and BroadwayOnDemand.com
The one-hour event will bring the entire theatrical community together on what is still the industry’s biggest night. The evening will be directed by Tony Award nominee Lonny Price and serve as a fundraiser for both the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, with support for The American Theatre Wing’s Education and Professional Development initiatives that provide crucial programming for theatre’s next generation of artists, creatives, and arts administrators and The Broadway League Foundation’s efforts to train young artists around the country and introduce them to careers in theatre.
“While the level of need within our community right now is overwhelming, so too is the generosity we continue to see every day,” said Heather Hitchens, President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “We are very grateful for Broadway On Demand for designing this wonderful opportunity for fans to celebrate Broadway and the Tony Awards while supporting the work we are doing to help those affected by this crisis.”
“Given all the devastating ways that this pandemic has affected our educational system, providing educational and training opportunities to those who otherwise might not have access feels more vital than ever before,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “In these uncertain times, helping the next generation of artists flourish is the best way I can think of to remain optimistic about the future of Broadway! Thank you to everyone at Broadway On Demand for helping us realize our mission and helping to celebrate our industry’s biggest night – the Tony Awards.”
Broadway.com will pay tribute to the Tony Awards with a special benefit, Show of Shows: Broadway.com Salutes the Tonys, on the same evening at 7 p.m. ET.
Show of Shows: Broadway.com Salutes the Tonys will also benefit The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League.
Broadway.com, and its parent company, John Gore Organization, have produced the Tony Awards television special, “At the Tonys with Imogen Lloyd Webber,” annually since 2016. The nationally syndicated broadcast has earned five New York Emmy Award nominations, winning in 2018 in the category of Special Event Coverage.
In a statement, Mr. Gore said, “We will deeply miss this year’s Tony Awards and telecast, and ‘Show of Shows’ is our small way of saluting that grand tradition while raising funds for the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League’s much needed educational initiatives.”
Not to throw too much shade at CBS, the line-up still allows for viewers to tune into Grease at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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To theatergoers everywhere: We love you. We miss you. And we want nothing more than to be with you again. For right now, the only way to stick together is to be apart. But remember, this is #OnlyIntermission. And everyone loves a great second act. art by @frogers