The 2023 Tony Awards had its fair share of surprises, snubs, and standout moments. Let’s delve into the key highlights from the eventful night:
- Snub: The Writers Guild of America (WGA) requested Tony-nominated writers not to attend the awards show in solidarity. However, many writers defied the request and used the nationally televised platform to vocalize their support for the WGA and highlight the importance of writers in the industry.
- Surprise: The absence of a scripted opening number caught many by surprise. Instead of singing, host Ariana DeBose, known for her role in “West Side Story,” delivered a mesmerizing dance performance. This unique approach emphasized the absence of pre-written words and focused on the talents of dancers and musicians.
- Surprise: The award for direction of play was highly competitive, but Patrick Marber emerged victorious for his precise staging of “Leopoldstadt,” a decades-spanning tale. While some expected other contenders to win, Marber’s impressive work earned him the well-deserved accolade.
- Snub: The star-studded revival of “A Doll’s House,” featuring Jessica Chastain, generated significant buzz leading up to the Tonys. It was considered a strong contender in multiple categories, including play revival and lead actress. However, despite the anticipation, the production failed to secure any wins.
- Surprise: Miriam Silverman surprised many by clinching the award for her outstanding performance in “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.” While Nikki Crawford and Katy Sullivan were also strong contenders, Silverman’s portrayal stood out alongside her renowned co-stars, Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan.
- Surprise: “Topdog/Underdog,” directed by Kenny Leon, triumphed in the play revival category. The production, written by Suzan-Lori Parks, impressed audiences with stellar lead performances from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Corey Hawkins, ultimately securing the coveted award.
- Standout: In addition to the focus on the Writers Guild strike, the Tony winners utilized their acceptance speeches to address a range of social issues. Beowulf Boritt, who won for set design, advocated for abortion rights and gender parity in the theater industry. Director Michael Arden spoke up for queer and trans rights, and Denée Benton made a sharp remark about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
- Surprise: Despite the absence of scripted material, the Tony Awards still ran for over four hours, exceeding expectations. The evening was filled with captivating live musical performances, heartfelt speeches, and video tributes, ensuring an entertaining and engaging event for viewers.
While the Tonys showcased unexpected moments, celebrated deserving talents, and highlighted important social issues, the absence of scripted material emphasized the significance of writers in creating memorable performances.