tony awards 2023

2023 Tonys: Watch Denée Benton Call Out ‘Grand Wizard’ of Florida Ron DeSantis

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

The 2023 Tony Awards had no writers, no script. But Denée Benton came with a one-liner locked and loaded. While introducing Jason Zembuch Young as the winner of the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award, Benton called Ron DeSantis the “Grand Wizard” of Florida rather than the governor. Oopsie! Jk, she knew what she was doing. “Earlier tonight, CMU and the Tony Awards presented the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award. And while I am certain that the current Grand Wizard … I’m sorry, excuse me, governor of my home state of Florida will be changing ” Benton said before getting drowned out with applause and oh no she didn’ts. “I am sure that he will changing the name of this following town immediately. We were honored to present this award to the truly incredible and life-changing Jason Zembuch Young, enhancing the lives at students at South Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida.”

This has so many layers. There’s a place called Plantation, Florida! Which has at least one incredible theater program in its school system! Calling a presidential candidate a Klan member! The look on Young’s face once the camera is on him and not Benton! Does this count as writing by WGA standards? Much to consider.

Watch Denée Benton Call Out ‘Grand Wizard’ Ron DeSantis