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History-Making 2023 Tony Awards Celebrate Outstanding Talent in Theatre

The 2023 Tony Awards, a groundbreaking event in the world of theatre, showcased exceptional talent and celebrated extraordinary productions. Despite the challenges posed by the writers' strike, the ceremony unfolded with a unique format, reflecting the resilience and creativity of Broadway. Leopoldstadt and Kimberly Akimbo emerged as the big winners of the night, while history was made with the recognition of non-binary actors in leading roles. Let us dive into the highlights of this memorable evening, where theatrical excellence took center stage.

Sean Hayes, Jodie Comer, J. Harrison Ghee and Victoria Clark won Tony Awards for their leading roles THEO WARGO/GETTY IMAGES

In a competitive category, Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadt emerged victorious as the Best New Play. This sprawling family drama captivated audiences with its powerful storytelling and insightful exploration of complex themes. Producer Sonia Friedman lauded Leopoldstadt as Stoppard's "most personal masterwork," while the play's director, Patrick Marber, expressed his admiration for Stoppard and referred to him as his "beloved friend and still my hero." Brandon Uranowitz also garnered recognition as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his remarkable performance in Leopoldstadt.

The 2023 Tony Awards etched their place in history by honoring the first-ever non-binary actors with prestigious acting Tonys. J Harrison Ghee's remarkable portrayal in Some Like It Hot earned them the coveted title of Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. In a heartfelt tribute, Ghee thanked their mother for encouraging them to utilize their talent to make a positive impact on the world. Alex Newell's exceptional performance in Shucked garnered them the title of Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Newell, a queer non-binary artist, expressed their gratitude for the recognition, highlighting the significance of their journey as a "queer non-binary fat Black little baby from Massachusetts."

Jodie Comer accepts the Tony Award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play, Prima Facie. SARA KRULWICH/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Adding to her Olivier award win, Jodie Comer dazzled the audience with her portrayal in Prima Facie, earning her the Tony for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. Comer's poignant portrayal of a barrister tackling sexual assault resonated deeply, and she acknowledged the character as her "greatest teacher" in an emotive acceptance speech. Comer also dedicated her award "to every person who feels represented by Tessa."

The 2023 Tony Awards were almost canceled due to the writers' strike, but an agreement reached just in time allowed the ceremony to proceed in an unscripted format. Host Ariana DeBose kicked off the event with a wordless musical number and emphasized the importance of Broadway speaking for itself. The absence of a formal script and the use of teleprompters solely for speech timing created an organic and spontaneous atmosphere, reflecting the resilience and adaptability of the theatre community.

Host Ariana DeBose at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Complete List of Winners:

  • Best New Play: Leopoldstadt

  • Best New Musical: Kimberly Akimbo

  • Best Play Revival: Topdog/Underdog

  • Best Musical Revival: Parade

  • Best Leading Actress in a Play: Jodie Comer (Prima Facie)

  • Best Leading Actor in a Play: Sean Hayes (Good Night, Oscar)

  • Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Victoria Clark (Kimberly Akimbo)

  • Best Leading Actor in a Musical: J Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot)

  • Best Featured Actor in a Play: Brandon Uranowitz (Leopoldstadt)

  • Best Featured Actress in a Play: Miriam Silverman (The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window)

  • Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Alex Newell (Shucked)

  • Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Bonnie Milligan (Kimberly Akimbo)

  • Best Direction of a Play: Patrick Marber (Leopoldstadt)

  • Best Direction of a Musical: Michael Arden (Parade)

  • Best Original Score: Kimberly Akimbo (music by Jeanine Tesori; lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire)

  • Best Choreography: Casey Nicholaw (Some Like It Hot)

  • Best Orchestrations: Charlie Rosen and Bryan Carter (Some Like It Hot)

  • Best Scenic Design of a Play: Tim Hatley and Andrzej Goulding (Life of Pi)

  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Beowulf Boritt (New York, New York)

  • Best Costume Design of a Play: Brigitte Reiffensutel (Leopoldstadt)

  • Best Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes (Some Like It Hot)

  • Best Sound Design of a Musical: Nevin Steinberg (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)

  • Best Lighting Design of a Play: Tim Lutkin (Life of Pi)

  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)

The 2023 Tony Awards showcased the resilience, innovation, and artistic brilliance of the Broadway community. From Leopoldstadt and Kimberly Akimbo to the groundbreaking recognition of non-binary actors, this year's winners have left an indelible mark on the theatre landscape.



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