Despite the ongoing strike of the Writers Guild of America, an agreement was reached for this year’s 76th Annual Tony Awards to go on as scheduled, without being picketed by members of the WGA. Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, and hosted by Ariana DeBose, the ceremony aired live from NYC’s United Palace Theatre on Sunday, June 11, from 8-11 pm, on the CBS television network and streamed live and on demand on Paramount+ without the usual scripted banter but with an extraordinary level of talent, energy, and camaraderie.
The prime-time broadcast was preceded, from 6:30-7:45 pm, by The Tony Awards: Act One, hosted by Julianne Hough and Skylar Astin on the free streaming platform Pluto TV, featuring the presentation of the first round of Tonys and the acceptance speeches of the recipients. Those included the Lifetime Achievement Awards presented to John Kander by Lin-Manuel Miranda and to Joel Grey by his daughter Jennifer Grey; the Isabelle Stevenson Award (recognizing an individual who has made a substantial philanthropic contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations) to director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell; and, along with the Broadway honors, the Regional Theatre Award given to Pasadena Playhouse and the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to Jason Zembuch Young of South Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida.
The unscripted format of the main event had the customary roster of luminaries – many of whom, beginning with DeBose, expressed their appreciation and support of their colleagues in the WGA – reading the list of nominees and names of the winners in the remainder of the 26 competitive categories. As always, the highlights of the celebration were live performances by the casts of the shows nominated for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical, opening with New York, New York and including numbers from Camelot, & Juliet, Some Like It Hot, Into the Woods, Parade, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Kimberly Akimbo, and Shucked, in addition to the “In Memoriam” segment sung by Joaquina Kalukango (winner of the 2022 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical), the casts of A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical and Funny Girl, and a dance segment by DeBose and Hough honoring Joel Grey and John Kander, recipients of the 2023 Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement.
Leading the Tonys wins with a total of five awards was the musical Kimberly Akimbo, followed by Some Like It Hot and the play Leopoldstadt with four each. Previously announced were the Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre, established in 1990, and bestowed this year upon three outstanding contributors to the Broadway community: production stage manager Lisa Dawn Cave; Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of the Theatre Development Fund (TDF); and theatrical accountant Robert Fried.
And the winners in the 26 competitive categories of the 2023 Tony Awards are:
BEST PLAY: Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard;
BEST MUSICAL: Kimberly Akimbo;
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY: Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog;
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL: Parade;
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL: Kimberly Akimbo, David Lindsay-Abaire;
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE: Kimberly Akimbo, Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Sean Hayes, Goodnight, Oscar;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Jodie Comer, Prima Facie;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL:
J. Harrison Ghee, Some Like It Hot;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Brandon Uranowitz, Leopoldstadt;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Miriam Silverman, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Alex Newell, Shucked;
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo;
BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY: Patrick Marber, Leopoldstadt;
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL: Michael Arden, Parade;
BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot;
BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter, Some Like It Hot;
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY: Tim Hatley & Andrzej Goulding, Life of Pi;
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Beowulf Boritt, New York, New York;
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY: Brigitte Rieffenstuel, Leopoldstadt;
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Gregg Barnes, Some Like It Hot;
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY: Tim Lutkin, Life of Pi;
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Natasha Katz, Sweeney Todd;
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY: Carolyn Downing, Life of Pi;
BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Nevin Steinberg, Sweeney Todd.
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all for an outstanding season on Broadway and a fabulous night at the Tonys!