tony awards 2023

Tony Awards Will Give Their Regards to Broadway Amid Strike

Stream “Solidarity” from Billy Elliot. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

At the 2023 Tony Awards, the drama is offstage. The awards show was almost canceled amid the WGA strike, but on May 15, the guild granted a waiver allowing Broadway’s big show to go on (the picket line would have required that writers not work if an unsanctioned show were aired). That means shows like Kimberly Akimbo, Sweeney Todd, Some Like It Hot, and all the other nominees slated to perform will still get their big night June 11. So the only question left, as Rachel Bloom well knows, is can we watch?

Are the Tonys happening?

The 76th annual Tony Awards will be televised on June 11, per a statement obtained by Vulture, now that the temporary halt by the writers’ strike has been lifted. “As they have stood by us, we stand with our fellow workers on Broadway who are impacted by our strike,” the Writers Guild of America announced in a statement. “Tony Awards Productions (a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing) has communicated with us that they are altering this year’s show to conform with specific requests from the W.G.A., and therefore the W.G.A. will not be picketing the show.” The main change comes down to the fact that the show is no longer using the previously written script, nor is it putting on the rap number that Lin-Manuel Miranda was set to write for host Ariana DeBose, according to the New York Times. Without a script, the show may be a little rickety, but it must go on.

Adding another wrinkle to an already fraught situation, the Hollywood Reporter alleges that the WGA recently asked Tony-nominated members of the guild to not attend the Tony Awards ceremony. Instead, the guild suggested in their email to members, members can pre-tape an acceptance speech or have a non-WGA-member accept the award on their behalf. The real question is, will Sara Bareilles (WGA member and Tony nominee for Into the Woods) be there?

How did the Tonys get back on?

Along with agreeing to make those changes, the main reason the Tonys are back on is because the playwrights (many of whom are in the WGA), advocated for the Tonys within their writing communities, according to the Times. Well-known playwrights like Tony Kushner, Jeremy O. Harris, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, and Martyna Majok, among many others, all advocated, getting the union to let the Tonys air without picketing owing to the impact the awards have on the theater community. Maybe now the Tonys will deign to give an award for playwriting.

Who is performing?

Obviously, host Ariana DeBose is on the list. Because of the writers’ strike, she’s expected to do an opening number and nothing else, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But the real meat of the night is the performances of the musical and musical revivals, which will determine our YouTube habits for the next year. The performing shows are CamelotInto the Woods& JulietKimberly AkimboNew York, New YorkParadeShuckedSome Like It Hot, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, according to a press release, a list that includes all the nominees for Best Musical and Best Musical Revival. The show will also include a performance from A Beautiful Noise, the Neil Diamond musical that was shut out of the nominations; the cast of Funny Girl (congrats to Lea Michele); a performance for the Special Tony Award winners of the year, Joel Grey and John Kander; and a performance by 2022’s Best Actress in a Musical winner, Joaquina Kalukango. It isn’t confirmed what Kalukango is performing, but our bet is that it’s for the “In Memoriam” segment. And nothing for the plays, bye!

Where can I watch the Tonys?

There’s two answers to that question. The Tonys will take place at United Palace, a departure from its typical location of Radio City Music Hall, where it’s been held since 2013. Most people, of course, will not be watching the show in the theater but at home. And for the dozens of us across the country who wait all year for the Tonys, we can find the awards either on CBS or streaming live on Paramount+, a streaming service that, if general trends are any indication, may just be called “+” by the time the awards actually roll around. Ariana DeBose’s improv show The Tony Awards will be held on June 11 at 8 p.m. ET.

This post has been updated.

Tony Awards Will Give Its Regards to Broadway Amid Strike