My #1 Takeaway From The 2023 Tony Awards

In Shubert Alley, this year’s Tony’s were nicknamed The Anxious Awards.

There was more nervousness around this year’s awards ceremony than in any year I can remember.

For good reason.   After all . . .

The Best Musical race was tighter than I’ve ever seen.

The Awards were in a brand new venue.  (Performing casts needed police escorts to make sure they arrived on time!)

Oh, and they weren’t allowed to use a script. 


That was the doozy.  

As if the last few years weren’t enough for our industry to deal with!  And then . . . a strike!

But hey – we got a telecast.  Thank goodness.  And I’m so thankful to the WGA for taking a break from their very important fight and allowing this to happen.  Because not having a Tony Awards at all could have knocked us out.  

But we got one.  And it was good!  (More on that below.)

Here were some of my favorite “dramatic” moments of from this year’s Tony Telecast:

  • Producer David Stone getting the Best Musical trophy for Kimberly Akimbo AND the Best Revival of a Play Tony for Topdog/Underdog.  Add those trophies to his resume of Wicked, Next to Normal, Spelling Bee, The Boys in the Band and so many more . . . and there’s no question he has taken his place as one most successful Broadway producers . . . ever.  
  • Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee busting boundaries and forever changing The Tony Awards . . . AND the lives of so many people who watched them accept their statues.  Sorry not sorry to those politicians out there trying to deny people their rights.  You’re about to be more outnumbered than ever before.
  • Michael Arden‘s deserved win, cementing his place as THE director of revivals, after this third nomination (Spring Awakening, Once on this Island and Parade).  Oh, and that speech!  The cheers at the United Palace were heard all the way to his hometown in Texas!  Take that!
  • Oh, and speaking of . . . how about that United Palace.  Ok, ok, we heard it was a little warm . . . but also . . . gorg.  Will The Tonys end up uptown next year, too?  Or maybe next year in . . . Brooklyn?  THIS theater is owned by a Broadway Producer and Theater Owner after all. 
  • Jordan Cooper getting a well deserved shout out from the generous and uberly-talented Brandon Uranowitz
  • Ariana DeBose performing the equivalent of the quadruple axel of hosting – dancing, improvising . . . all while looking like it was any other night.  

And there was one more . . .

  • The most star-studded sing-a-long of “Sweet Caroline” evah.  🙂

But my #1 takeaway of last night’s Tony telecast was this:

It happened.

And it was good . . . without a script!

Super standing ovation to the folks at White Cherry Entertainment (Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner as well as Sarah Levine Hall and so many others) on producing this show without a net.  They over delivered an entertaining, moving, and surprising show that many thought was impossible.

But once again, the theater proved that nothing . . . NOTHING . . . not covid or strikes . . . or the invention of the radio, the tv, the internet . . . or a zillion streaming channels on that phone in your pocket . . . or anything can keep it down.

There’s a reason it’s the oldest art form there is, and will keep on thriving, despite whatever obstacle is thrown in its way.

I’m proud of us.  I’m proud to be a member of this community.  And this artform.

Because nothing can stop the theater.

And now, next season begins!  

What did you think of the telecast?

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.