the thing

Shhh … Ariana DeBose Opened the Writer-less Tony Awards Without Speaking

Never underestimate the importance of body language. Ariana DeBose opened the unscripted 2023 Tony Awards with a big, wordless dance number in solidarity with the striking WGA. The musical number included snippets of songs such as “Take the A Train” and “On Broadway,” because we are in New York, the New York–iest place on earth. Starting quite literally with a blank script in her dressing room, DeBose danced her way onto the stage before giving a few improvised remarks. DeBose explained that there is no script and no teleprompter information being given to presenters tonight. The two teleprompters onstage merely have a countdown clock so that presenters and winners know how long they have to vamp.

Why no words? The WGA strike, of course! The Tonys broadcast was not a sure thing this year, as it came shortly after the Writers Guild went on strike. It wasn’t until May 15 that the guild gave the awards show a waiver to even happen. If the WGA hadn’t granted that waiver, Tony the Tiger would have had to cross a picket line in order to walk the red carpet. As it stands, the guild still recommended that members not attend the ceremony.

Ariana DeBose Opened the 2023 Tonys With the Power of Mime