2021 Tony Awards slugfest: What will win Best Musical? [WATCH]

The date for the 2020 Tony Awards ceremony (or wait, is it the 2021 Tony Awards now?), remains shrouded in mystery. Voting is already underway however. With the announcement that Tony voters will cast their ballots March 1-15, David Buchanan and I got together to discuss the outcomes in a 2021 Tony Awards predictions slugfest. What will these industry voters want to reward as Broadway theatres still remain shuttered during the pandemic? Watch David and I discuss which musical nominees might win top honors in the video above.

David and I are both predicting “Moulin Rouge!” to claim the coveted Best Musical prize. It embodies the escapism and grand spectacle that so many folks associate with Broadway. But I smell an upset brewing for “Jagged Little Pill.” The Alanis Morissette show has plenty of heart, covers pressing social issues, and has the most nominations of any musical. I offer that if voters are scared that the heavier material of this tuner is a tougher sell to the limited post-pandemic tourist audiences, voters could try to give “Jagged Little Pill” a boost by naming it Best Musical. David agrees that “there might be an inclination to reward what is ostensibly the more important musical.”

SEE 2020 Tony Awards nominations: ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ ‘Moulin Rouge!’ lead musicals, ‘Slave Play’ sets record for plays with 12

Next we move on to Musical Revival. Just kidding! This category was eliminated this year as there were no eligible candidates. Hopefully Ivo van Hove’s new staging of “West Side Story” (which opened before the shutdown, but not with enough time to invite voters) gets to perform on the eventual telecast.

Instead, David and I discuss the perceived locks in the musical acting races. Adrienne Warren (“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”), Aaron Tveit, Danny Burstein (both from “Moulin Rouge!”), and Lauren Patten (“Jagged Little Pill”) have remained at the top of Gold Derby’s odds since the prediction center opened. “Danny is far and away the lock that I’m most confident in,” explains David. Indeed the stage veteran is on his seventh Tony nomination without a win. He also detailed his brutal battle with Covid-19 and the tragic loss of his wife (Tony nominee Rebecca Luker) in a series of emotional essays. The industry is primed to rally around him for his engaging performance of Zidler.

SEE Tony Awards 2021 slugfest: Who has the edge in the incredibly competitive Play races?

If the four acting races are a done deal, I propose that Book of a Musical is where we might see an upset. Diablo Cody is the odds favorite for creating a story out of a pop album with “Jagged Little Pill.” But, voters tend to reward high concept shows or laugh-a-minute comedies with the Book award. None of the contenders fit that mold this year. Perhaps “Tina” could even sneak in a surprise win, thanks to featuring acclaimed playwright Katori Hall as a writer. David isn’t budging though, insisting that “the idea of taking an album…and trying to craft characters and story and plot out of it…shows originality.”

All signs point to the eventual ceremony occurring close to the normal early June time frame to coincide with some plan for reopening Broadway. That means this year’s nominees must continue their painful wait to discover their eventual fate. David is happy to wait if it’s for the good of the industry. “The Tonys are such an important marketing tool,” he explains, “and the industry is going to need as much help as they can get when the doors open.” The show must go on. And it will. In the meantime, Broadway fans and Tony nominees are eagerly anticipating when it will go on.

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