How the 2023 Tony Awards went on with the show
The ceremony, which celebrated the best of Broadway theatre in the 2022-23 season, went on in a modified format amid an ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.
The 2023 Tony Awards, as always, honored the best of the 2023 Broadway season with a ceremony broadcast on CBS and Paramount+ on June 11. But some elements of this year's event were different than previous years. Two major things differentiated the 2023 Tonys from any other annual ceremony before it: It was held at a new neighborhood in a new venue, and it happened amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, which meant the ceremony would be almost entirely unscripted.
Despite some changes to the format, the ceremony still went off with all the usual hallmarks: awards presentations, performances from the nominated shows and more, and of course, plenty of joy and celebration for the joy of Broadway. Read on to find out more about all this year's changes and how the 2023 Tony Awards still went on with the show.
The 2023 Tony Awards occurred at a new venue.
Well, not exactly new — it's been around since 1930 — but new to the Tonys. The awards took place at the United Palace, an opulent Washington Heights movie house three times the size of Broadway's theatres, for the first time this year. Lin-Manuel Miranda made the venue newly famous in recent years, hosting regular movie screenings and talkbacks there to raise awareness of the historic space.
The Tony Awards opening number was a lively dance performance.
Ariana DeBose, hosting for the second year in the row, headlined the opening number, as is usual for a host. But since a bespoke song would count as scripted content, this year's opening number was a dance routine featuring choreography in Latin American styles.
This was a nod to the largely Hispanic demographic that makes up Washington Heights — and, as a bonus, to June 11 being the day of 2023's National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The ceremony had no scripted content.
"Buckle up," DeBose said when informing the viewers that the ceremony would be unscripted amid the WGA strike. Broadway playwrights and composers have their own unions separate from the screenwriter-focused WGA (though there is some overlap among writers who have done both).
However, WGA members are the ones who usually write banter, monologues, speeches, and other material for hosts and presenters to read at televised awards ceremonies like the Tonys.
The WGA agreed not to picket the 2023 Tony Awards on the condition that it had no scripted content, as its members wouldn't write it. As such, the presenters' speeches were generally shorter or else entirely absent; some launched immediately into reading out the nominees in each category. Usually, the presenters give information about each show's nominations, plot, and fun facts before each one performs, or else context about the nominees before they're read out. That wa
On the flip side, the winners got to give longer speeches.
There were no red carpet interviews.
Funny moments from pre-ceremony red carpet interviews have gone viral more than once. This year's Tony Awards didn't have this potential, however, as no red carpet interviews took place this year. (Photography was still permitted, though, so you can still see all the glamorous celebrity fashion on display!)
No specific reason was publicly given for this change, but a possible reason was due to the ceremony's location, the United Palace. The Tonys are normally held in a midtown Manhattan venue near Broadway theatres, while Washington Heights is further uptown. Not having to do red carpet interviews likely gave the nominees and other attendees more time to get ready and travel to the United Palace, as many shows still had matinee performances earlier in the day.
All the musical nominees performed.
Some aspects of the 2023 Tony Awards went on more or less as normal, and one was the performances. All the shows nominated for Best Musical and Best Musical Revival usually perform each year, and this year was no different.
Ultimately, Kimberly Akimbo (Best Musical) and Parade (Best Musical Revival) took home the coveted prizes. But each musical — all of which are still running except Into the Woods — delivered a showstopping number that displayed its casts' great talent.
Parade, for example, saw its Tony-nominated stars Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond perform the emotional duet "This Is Not Over Yet," and the cast of Kimberly Akimbo, led by Best Leading Actress in a Musical winner Victoria Clark, performed the song "Anagram" from David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori's Tony-winning score.
Photo credit: The United Palace
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