Tony Awards 2023: The Best and Worst Moments

“I’m raw and unscripted,” said Ariana DeBose, the host of this year’s Tony Awards, at the beginning of Sunday night’s show. Her breathless, DeBose had just danced around the majestic United Palace Theater with dancers and musicians to a wordless opening number that began backstage. She slowly makes her way onto the stage as she flips through a binder filled with blank pages that says “Screenplay”. It was a thrilling start to the night, which barely materialized due to the ongoing writers’ strike. We didn’t get the jokes on script, but the ceremony was great and they were happy to work around some of the restrictions brought on by the strike. Below are the highest and lowest values ​​the writer has seen. Nicole Herrington

Tony’s telecasts to date have often wasted the “bumper” (the gap between the end of a big performance or award and the commercial that followed) with unconvincing nonsense scripts. guess what? No script, no nonsense. At this year’s ceremony, behind the scenes, people just belted out (like the medieval inhabitants of Camelot) and people about to go to war (like the Elizabethans in & Juliet). The camera only captured the clash between You can see the love between the performers of various shows at a glance. We tend to think of it as the opposing soccer team. Hugs, high-fives, jeers, and sometimes pantomimes are tricky vocal cords, but they showed in visual succinct terms that the “community” people on Broadway always talk about is real. jessie green

Perhaps the only thing that can match the absolute joy of Alex Newell’s performance in “Shucked,” full of spicy dialogue and downright fiery vocals, is Newell’s Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. would have won the award. The award, presented by Tatiana Maslany and Wilson Cruz, called out to the LGBTQ community during Pride Month. In Newell’s words, it was a fitting victory for a “queer non-binary fat baby from Massachusetts.” The night was even more exciting when J. Harrison Gee for Some Like It Hot won Best Actor in a Musical. Newell and Guy are the first openly non-binary actors to win a Tony Award. These incredible performers at an awards ceremony that lacks a way to honor those who don’t fit into either of his two defined gender categories in an industry that has historically been defined and sustained by queer artists. It’s heartening to see that makes history. . Maya Phillips

I don’t mean to disrespect Sean Hayes, who won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Play.and i think he did his best piano A performance that slaps a portion of “Rhapsody in Blue” at the climax of “Goodnight, Oscar.” But I have to say that Corey Hawkins in Top Dog/Under Dog was at least as thrilling and Stephen McKinley Henderson in Between Riverside and Crazy was unforgettable. His performance as a cranky and cunning ex-cop with a nice apartment and a sinister secret was timeless. It’s a shame that, after decades of playing small, precious, and often unheralded characters, he got the chance to take over the entire stage only to be hated by little Gershwin. jessie green

Known for her rich and wide vocal range, Bonnie Milligan accepted her first Tony Awards Sunday night, denouncing height discrimination and other types of prejudice in the theater industry in her acceptance speech. “To people who don’t look like what the world says you should be, even if you’re not beautiful enough, not healthy enough, even if your identity is wrong, Even if the person you love isn’t right, you want to tell them.’ Right — it doesn’t matter, because what do you think? she said. “That’s right, and you belong somewhere.” Sarah Barr

Most years, live performances at the Tony Awards aren’t the highlight they should be. Past ceremonies have struggled with filming performances with erratic camera placement or pointless movements between close-ups and wide shots. This year’s musical number is pure deliciousness, sung ferociously (Jordan Donica!), and shot elegantly and thoughtfully. In some cases (especially “New York, New York”), the number looked even more captivating and gorgeous on screen than on stage. Alexis Soroski

Jon Kander is a giant of the musical world, and it’s no surprise he won a Tony Award for lifetime achievement in theater. However, it was part of a pre-show streamed on streaming service Pluto TV, not the main run on CBS. Kander’s big moment should have been part of the main event. Especially since Mr. Kander came to this place with a wonderful speech that started with a nod to his parents who encouraged him to “think about the possibility of happiness.” To make matters worse, he and Joel Gray, who had won the Lifetime Achievement Award in the corner before that, were pulled out for a brief appearance in prime time that felt almost random. Elizabeth Vincentelli

Tony’s voters struck a perfect balance when it came to landscape design awards. Beowulf Borit won the musical “New York, New York”. This show is a big, hilarious throwback to a show with a decidedly classic Broadway aesthetic.

“‘New York, New York’ has no video walls,” he assured the audience, who sounded happy to hear it. “It’s old-fashioned paint on canvas.”

However, the next stage design award for theater went to set designer Tim Hatley and video designer Andrzej Goulding for Life of Pi. Clever physics set.

Recognizing these different kinds of excellence, Mr. and Mrs. Tony gracefully embraced both tradition and breaking tradition. Laura Collins Hughes

The conventional wisdom is that when you release numbers at Tony’s, you need to act in a big way. But an excerpt from “Kimberly Akimbo” is a quieter piece, “Anagram,” lead by Victoria Clarke, not only with the melodic and aching grace of the score, but with Clarke’s subtle play on the character’s emotions. Emphasize how you are. The strategy reflected the decision to have Sidney Lucas’ “Ring of Keys” represent “Fun Home” (another show with music by Janine Tesori) at Tony’s in 2015. . Its bold approach was widely seen as working well at the time, attracting televised viewers to discover the show. I can only hope that the same thing happens with “Kimberly Akimbo”. Elizabeth Vincentelli

“I hate complaining,” said Patrick Marber with his mischievous charm, winning a Tony Award for Best Direction of Tom Stoppard’s play Leopoldstadt.

“But how did you know when actors were named as prizes?” Marber asked. glory? Directors are not! No one wants to see our ugly faces – not even the director of this show. “

It was the right decision, he gleefully admitted. “It belongs in the dark, and we belong behind the scenes,” the director said.

But what a missed opportunity! It’s not just because enthusiasts want to know what directors are like to find them in theaters. Award-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o wore a beautifully curly design that followed her bare scalp. This would have been a perfect visual complement to director Jamie Lloyd’s tattooed head, nominated for “A Doll’s House.” Laura Collins Hughes

This year’s carpet was fuchsia with a lush foliage backdrop. Then Broadway stars came out and paraded through a sea of ​​pinks, blues and golds. Pink is a tribute to playwright Susan-Lori Parks of “Top Dog/Under Dog” and last year’s Best Actor in a Musical Award winner Miles Frost for his shirtless looks. Comedian and author Amber Ruffin and Victoria Clarke, Best Actress winner for Kimberly Akimbo, opted for strapless gowns in shades of blue to win a Tony Award for Some Like It Hot. J. Harrison Ghee, who also looked dazzling in a dramatic collar, dazzled in long gloves and a necklace. Madison Malone Kircher and Minju Park

No one asks the Tonys for scripted jokes. In the absence of comebacks and skits, the necessary sacrifices for the writers’ strike, the ceremony – improbably – ended on schedule. But a skilled improviser like Freestyle Love Supreme alum Utkash Ambudkar (who introduced himself as Marcia Gay Harden) can easily ad-lib laugh lines. ), other presenters struggled when asked to provide their own material. Even genius clowns like Nathan Lane first riffed, “Is it hot in here?” For example, I groaned and struggled. Alexis Soroski

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