Minneapolis bon vivant Kitty Fahey is desperately hoping to get into Sunday's ceremony for the 74th Annual Tony Awards. Over the years, the theater fanatic and occasional Broadway investor has been to four of the galas. But the ceremony and getting tickets for it are starkly different this time.
"It's a bizarre year, and the list is invite-only unless you buy a resale ticket at the last minute," Fahey said. "But I'll be in the city, so I might as well try."
Many of theater's biggest lights — including Kristin Chenoweth, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chita Rivera and Idina Menzel — will make appearances at the celebration of Broadway's return following the pandemic shutdown.
Also gracing the stage will be Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford, Kerry Butler, Andre De Shields, Christopher Jackson, Ruthie Ann Miles, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelli O'Hara, Ben Platt, Jeremy Pope, Daphne Rubin-Vega and BD Wong.
The streaming-only Tony Awards ceremony, hosted by Audra McDonald, will kick off at 6 p.m. It will be followed at 8 p.m. by "Broadway's Back," a two-hour live special on CBS hosted by Leslie Odom Jr. from the Winter Garden Theatre.
The bulk of the awards — in the acting, directing and technical categories — will be handed out in the first celebration that will be accessible only to Paramount Plus subscribers. The CBS special caps the night with the three top awards: best play, best play revival and best musical.
A development executive at the Twin Cities United Way, Fahey has seen virtually all the shows that are up for awards, including best play nominees "The Inheritance" by Matthew Lopez and Jeremy O. Harris' "Slave Play." She is disappointed that the list of nominees for best musical caps out at three: "Tina — The Tina Turner Musical," "Jagged Little Pill" and "Moulin Rouge."
Fahey believes Adrienne Warren has a strong shot at winning a Tony for playing rock icon Tina Turner and that "Moulin Rouge," headlined by Karen Olivo, may take the best musical overall.
"It's so built for the theater," Fahey said. "But the pandemic has been hard."
That is true for everyone. But for those like Fahey who thrive on the adrenaline of live shows, the last year and a half has been, well, hell. So, Fahey is overcompensating. She has bought or is buying tickets to every show, new and old, that's opening or reopening at all 41 Broadway playhouses.
"It's not a choice — 18 months without Broadway? Come on," Fahey said.
The Broadway habitué was walking down the street Sept. 14 when she saw Miranda singing outside the stage door for "Hamilton" on the night the show reopened. She also saw Chenoweth at the "Wicked" reopening and director Julie Taymor at "The Lion King" that night.
"It was almost like an opening night again," Fahey said.
The daughter of an IBM executive, Fahey "grew up all over the place," she said. She saw her first Broadway show, "Pippin," when she was 6 or 7.
"I have no idea what it was about or who was with me, I just remember the feeling I had," she said. "I was stunned, mesmerized. I can't really remember moving a muscle. I was completely taken away and into the whole narrator's face."
She still craves being swept away in wonderment.
Her first show after the pandemic was Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's "Pass Over," whose August opening made it too late to qualify for this year's Tonys. It will be eligible next year, however.
"I had fun that night because the director and the playwright, both first-timers, sat behind me and the playwright had her head in her hands the whole time," Fahey said. "The city of New York closed off the street in front of the theater and they had a street party with DJs. That show was a gateway drug for me, easing me back in. If I'd seen a musical first, I would've had a heart attack."
"Six," which had a pre-Broadway run at the Ordway, was "a blast," she said. She has seen the Tony-winning musical "Hadestown" four times already. Other shows like "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" and "Lackawanna Blues" may not have made her list in a normal year. But she's up for anything now.
"If you told me 'Lackawanna Blues' was a one-man show, I would have told you to go jump in a lake," Fahey said.
Fahey also has bought tickets to half a dozen off-Broadway productions.
"I have a spreadsheet that I use for when tickets go on sale, when shows open," Fahey said. "It's beautiful but it looks like the mind of a crazy-town serial killer. What is the first preview? What's opening? What day can you get tickets? Several times, I booked the same show twice."
Fahey bought tickets to "Mrs. Doubtfire" for three different days.
"I was trying to buy everything so quickly sometimes I bought two shows the same night — what a mess," Fahey said.
Last Sunday, she flew home from New York after seeing "Wicked." She jetted back to the Big Apple less than 48 hours later to see "Come From Away." Her theater toggle would have most heads spinning, but not hers.
"Not exhausting at all," she said. "It's really exhilarating."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.