The 2023 Tony Awards by the numbers
Read on to learn fun facts and stats about the nominees, venue, and historic firsts associated with the 76th annual theatre awards ceremony, hosted on June 11.
It’s the summer of 76!
Not Summer, 1976 — that’s the Tony-nominated David Auburn play — but the 76th annual Tony Awards on June 11. Tony host Ariana DeBose may not march on stage with 76 trombones in tow (The Music Man was last season, after all), but it does seem fitting that the 76th Tony Awards are taking place in the same season as Roundabout’s gender-flipped 1776 revival and Manhattan Theatre Club’s world premiere of Summer, 1976.
Seventy-six isn’t the only notable number attached to this year’s ceremony, though. Read on to discover some of the exciting, historic firsts among the nominees and more fast facts on the 2023 Tony Awards by the numbers.
76 years of the Tonys
The very first Antoinette Perry Awards took place in 1947 in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. (It took another two decades until the ceremony was broadcast on national television in 1967.) Awards were given in eight categories:
- Actor in a Play
- Actress in a Play
- Best Performer in a Musical
- Outstanding Newcomer
- Costume Designer
The winners, including director Elia Kazan (All My Sons), composer Kurt Weill (Street Scene), actress Ingrid Bergman (Joan of Lorraine), and choreographer Agnes DeMille (Brigadoon), received gendered prizes by today’s standards. The women got engraved jewelry or compacts, while the men got engraved money clips or cigarette lighters. Two years later, the Tonys began awarding medallions to the recipients instead.
1 new venue
For the first time, the Tonys will take place at the United Palace theatre in Washington Heights. It is Manhattan’s fourth-largest theatre, with nearly 3,500 seats. In some ways, the Tony Awards are going back to their roots by happening there — Harold Rambusch, who designed the Waldorf Astoria, also designed the interior of the United Palace theatre.
Over the past 76 years, the Tonys have been held at 19 different venues, including other hotels like the Plaza, Broadway theatres like the Winter Garden and Shubert, and iconic New York landmarks like the Rainbow Room and Radio City Music Hall. Radio City has hosted the most Tony Award ceremonies of all time: 20.
3 modified ceremonies (in 3 years)
The pandemic shook up the past two Tony Awards ceremonies. The combined 2020 awards ceremony actually took place in 2021 after pandemic delays. And several of the 2022 Tony winning shows actually began performances just prior to the Broadway shutdown on March 12, 2020, and would have been considered among that year’s nominees had they not been shuttered as quickly as they opened.
The 2023 ceremony is also being modified, this time amid an ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America, which writes material for televised broadcasts like the Tonys. While the ceremony will still be broadcast as planned on June 11, it won’t contain any original scripted material. The ceremony will consist almost entirely of awards presentations and performances from the nominated shows.
38 eligible shows
There were 38 total shows in the 2022-2023 Broadway season, and all were considered eligible for nominations. Of those, 27, or 71% of the eligible shows, received at least one nomination.
26 competitive award categories
Having come a long way since 1947, the Tony Awards now award performers, directors, writers, choreographers, and designers, with most categories split by play or musical. There are also multiple special Tony honors, a different number each year, awarded to educators, regional theatres, administrators, and artists celebrating lifetime achievement.
13 Some Like It Hot nominations
Some Like It Hot is this year’s most nominated show, receiving 13 nominations in 12 categories. Christian Borle and J. Harrison Ghee were nominated for their work on the new musical in the same category: Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
There is a three-way tie for second place: The musicals & Juliet, Shucked, and New York, New York all received nine nods. Leopoldstadt, Ain’t No Mo’, and A Doll’s House also tied three ways for the most play nominations with six each.
8 double nominees
8 nominees were either nominated in the same category for two different shows they worked on this season, or they were nominated in two different categories for their work on the same show. Here are all the double nominees this year:
- Playwright/performer Jordan E. Cooper (Ain’t No Mo’)
- Choreographer Jennifer Weber (& Juliet and KPOP)
- Costume designer Emilio Sosa (Ain’t No Mo’ and Good Night, Oscar)
- Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw (Some Like It Hot)
- Bookwriter/lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire (Kimberly Akimbo)
- Set designer Scott Pask (Shucked and Some Like It Hot)
- Sound designers Ben and Max Ringham (Prima Facie and A Doll’s House)
- Lighting designer Natasha Katz (Some Like It Hot and Sweeney Todd)
60 first-time Tony nominees
Of note, Weber and Cooper, both among the double nominees above, made their Broadway debuts this season. Additionally, all the performers in the Best Featured Actress and Actor in a Musical categories, with the exception of Ruthie Ann Miles, are first-time nominees.
More historic firsts at the 2023 Tony Awards
The 76th Tony Awards already made history with this year’s nominees, and pivotal moments could happen when the winners are announced.
Some Like It Hot’s Ghee and Shucked’s Alex Newell are the first openly non-binary performers to be nominated in their categories. Ghee plays a gender-expansive character, and Newell plays a cisgender woman, but both performers were able to choose whether they wanted to be considered eligible in the Actor or Actress category.
Katy Sullivan (Cost of Living) is the first female amputee to perform on Broadway and the first to be nominated for a Tony Award.
Although the current A Doll’s House revival is the 14th Broadway production of the famous Ibsen play, 2023 Tony nominee Amy Herzog is the first woman to adapt the work for Broadway. And since she newly adapted it, not just translated it, she’s eligible for the Best Revival of a Play award, which is usually reserved for producers.
Jordan E. Cooper became the youngest Black American playwright in Broadway history when his play Ain’t No Mo’ opened this past fall. And now, he’s the youngest Black American playwright ever nominated!
Helen Park is the first female Asian composer/lyricist on Broadway and the first to be nominated for a Tony. She is, in fact, the first female Asian writer to be nominated for a Tony in any of the writing categories. If Helen Park were to win Best Score for her work on KPOP, she would be the first woman of color to do so in her category.
Similarly, if either Amber Ruffin (Some Like It Hot) or Sharon Washington (New York, New York) wins Best Book of a Musical, they will be the first non-white woman to ever receive the award for writing or co-writing the book of a musical. In fact, no non-white woman has ever won a Tony Award in either writing category (Best Book or Best Score). The closest exception is Yasmina Reza, a playwright of half-Central Asian descent who has won two Tonys for Best Play.
66-year age range of nominees
Kimberly Akimbo’s Justin Cooley is this year’s youngest nominee at 19 years old. He’s up for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for starring in Kimberly Akimbo. In a close second, the youngest nominated woman is 23-year-old Best Featured Actress in a Musical nominee Julia Lester, who made her Broadway debut with Into the Woods last summer as Little Red Ridinghood.
At 85 years old, playwright Tom Stoppard is the oldest nominee at this year’s Tony Awards. His show Leopoldstadt is up for Best Play.
6 Pulitzer Prize-winning plays
No matter what happens, they’re already winners! Three of this year’s Best Play nominees have already won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis (2015), Cost of Living by Martyna Majok (2018), and Fat Ham by James Ijames (2022).
Which nominee has the most career Tony nominations?
Lighting designers are not often household names, but if you don’t know the name Natasha Katz, you should. Katz has received a whopping 17 Tony nominations for designing Broadway plays and musicals, including last year’s MJ. She has won the award seven times – four for musicals (MJ, Aida, Once, and An American in Paris) and three for plays (The Coast of Utopia, The Glass Menagerie, and Long Day’s Journey into Night).
Which nominee has the most career Tony wins?
Audra McDonald holds that record. She is one of only five performers to have been nominated in all four acting categories and is the only person who’s won all four acting categories. She has won six competitive awards; Julie Harris is the only other person in history with that many wins, but one of hers is a special award.
This year’s nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Play for Ohio State Murders is her 10th to date, tying her with Harris and Chita Rivera as the most nominated performer ever. If McDonald wins in 2023, she will become the performer with the most awards ever: seven.
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