Theater's Finest: Winners Of The 2023 Tony Awards

The 76th Tony Awards took place on Sunday evening with a strong line-up of nominees and a memorable, unscripted program that drew in 4.3 million viewers. 

This year’s Tony Awards, which was held at the United Palace in New York City, was certainly unforgettable for a number of reasons. For one thing, the program itself was entirely unscripted due to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Nevertheless, charismatic singer-actress Arianna DeBose hosted the event with humor and heart. 

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It can be said that the uncommon program was exactly what made this year’s Tony Awards so unique. While honoring the writers joining the WGA strike, attendees had a lot of time to focus on this year’s roster of nominees without a pandering script. 

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Considering the momentous victories in this year’s event, including the first non-binary Tony award winners, having the space for more candid and personal speeches was a welcome change. In fact, this year’s Tony Awards drew in its highest number of viewers in recent years at 4.3 million. 

So which entries from the strong list of nominees stole the show this 2023? For those wanting to catch up, below are this year’s major Tony Award winners: 

WORKS

Best Musical: Kimberly Akimbo

Among all the entries in this year’s Tony Awards, Kimberly Akimbo took home the most number of wins, including the coveted “Best Musical” award. The hit musical was based on Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire’s play of the same name. 

Alli Mauzey and Victoria Clarck play mother and daughter in "Kimberly Akimbo"
Alli Mauzey and Victoria Clarck play mother and daughter in “Kimberly Akimbo”/Photo via Instagram @akimbomusical

Kimberly Akimbo tells the story of a teen girl named Kimberly, who moves to New Jersey and faces a number of challenges along the way. This involves grappling with her first crush, family dysfunction, a rare genetic condition, and even charges of felony. Still, she remains determined to find happiness against all odds. 

Best Play: Leopoldstadt

Taking the title “Best Play” is Tom Stoppard’s Oliver Award-winning work, Leopoldstadt. Set in 1800s Vienna, the theatrical piece chronicles the life of the Merz family. The narrative spans 55 years and centers around four generations of characters who face antisemitism across different time periods. Leopoldstadt also dominated the Tony Awards and stands next to Kimberly Akimbo as the year’s most notable theatrical work. 

A peek of a scene from "Leopoldstadt"
A peek of a scene from “Leopoldstadt”/Photo by Joan Marcus via Instagram @leopoldstadtbwy

Best Revival of a Musical: Parade

Also exploring issues of antisemitism is the musical Parade, based on the book by Alfred Uhry. Originally staged in 1998, the piece won “Best Revival of a Musical” in this year’s Tony Awards. 

A look at "Parade" the musical
A look at “Parade” the musical/Photo via Instagram @paradebway

Parade is a tragic dramatization of the imprisonment, trial, and lynching of Jewish American Leo Frank in Georgia, which took place from 1913 to 1915. Still, within the saddening plot is a slow-burn and tender love story between Leo Frank (played by Ben Platt) and his wife Lucille (Micaela Diamond), which serves as the musical’s beating heart. 

Best Revival of a Play: Topdog/Underdog

The “Best Revival of a Play” award went to Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog. The humorous, dark, and fabulistic piece first premiered in 2001 and revolves around the lives of two African-American brothers, Lincoln and Booth. Throughout the play, the siblings face issues brought about by racism and poverty, as well as other challenges caused by their family history. 

Lincoln and Booth, the brothers at the center of "Topdog/Underdog"
Lincoln and Booth, the brothers at the center of “Topdog/Underdog”/Photo via Instagram @topdogbway

PEOPLE

Best Leading Actor of a Play: Sean Haynes in Goodnight, Oscar

Sean Haynes won the prestigious “Best Leading Actor of a Play” award for his role in Goodnight, Oscar. Here, Haynes plays the pianist, comedian, and actor, Oscar Levant—a real Golden Age Hollywood figure who dealt with mental illness throughout his life. 

Sean Haynes holding the Tony for his role as Oscar Levant in "Goodnight, Oscar"
Sean Haynes holding the Tony for his role as Oscar Levant in “Goodnight, Oscar”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

Variety described Haynes as “a one-man show in his own right,” who offered a complete picture of Levant’s complexities as a character. Queerty summarized his humorous and incisive performance as such: “Hayes swings big, proving that great comedic actors are only as funny as the gravitas that drives them toward humor to begin with.”

Best Featured Actor of a Play: Brandon Uranowitz in Leopoldstadt

Brandon Uranowitz, a Tony-nominated theater veteran, won the “Best Featured Actor of a Play” for his role in Leopoldstadt—or rather, his roles in the play. The talented thespian actually played the parts of two characters. The first being Ludwig (a brother-in-law in the Merz family), and the second being a descendant in the play’s intense final scene. 

Brandon Uranowitz holding his Tony for his performances in "Leopoldstadt"
Brandon Uranowitz holding his Tony for his performances in “Leopoldstadt”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

“I feel like as an actor and as a Jewish actor, there is absolutely nothing else I should be doing right now other than this play,” he shared in an interview with Town & Country. “Despite how painful, difficult, exhausting, and scary it is.”

Best Leading Actor of a Musical:  J. Harrison Ghee in Some Like It Hot

A historic moment in this year’s Tony Awards was the win of J.Harrison Ghee for their role in the musical Some Like It Hot. Ghee is one of two non-binary actors to have ever been awarded in the awards’ long history. The musical is based on Marilyn Monroe’s hit 1959 film of the same name. It’s here where Ghee plays Jerry/Daphne, a character who discovers their love for drag as the story unravels. 

J. Harrison Ghee holding their Tony for their role in "Some Like It Hot"
J. Harrison Ghee holding their Tony for their role in “Some Like It Hot”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

“For every trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming human who ever was told you couldn’t be, you couldn’t be seen, this is for you,” Ghee stated in their moving acceptance speech

Best Featured Actor of a Musical: Alex Newell in Shucked

The second non-binary actor to have been awarded was Alex Newell for their role in Shucked. Newell is best known for their performance as Unique in the popular TV series Glee, but already carved a name for themselves in the world of theater. 

Alex Newell with their Tony for their role in "Shucked"
Alex Newell with their Tony for their role in “Shucked”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

Shucked is a musical comedy centering around the lives of residents in a small, rural town in the midwest. As its witty title suggests, the piece involves a lot of corn and knee-slap humor. In it, Newell plays the head-strong whiskey distiller Lulu. 

“Acting is my craft. I am an actor,” they explained in an interview with the Rolling Stone. “‘Actor’ is a genderless word. It truly is.”

Best Leading Actress of a Play: Jodie Comer in Prima Facie

Suzie Miller’s Prima Facie was making waves long before Tony season, with sold-out shows and critical acclaim from audiences since it first premiered in 2019. Actress Jodie Comer won the “Best Leading Actress of a Play” award for her role as a sharp-witted barrister named Tessa. The Wall Street Journal described her work as “one of the most thrilling performances of the Broadway season.” 

Jodie Comer with her Tony for her role in "Prima Facie"
Jodie Comer with her Tony for her role in “Prima Facie”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

The piece is a one-woman act that centers on Tessa, who experiences harrowing events that call her to question the patriarchal justice system she has long worked for.

Best Featured Actress of a Play: Miriam Silverman in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window

Miriam Silverman won “Best Featured Actress of a Play” for her role as Mavis Parodus Bryson in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. The theatrical work is a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1964 play that critiques navel-gazing liberalism. In it, Silverman portrays a snobbish and racist Upper Manhattan matron with a nuanced performance. 

Miriam Silverman with her Tony for her role in "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window"
Miriam Silverman with her Tony for her role in “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

Her co-star and actor Oscar Isaac described her work as a “masterpiece in plain sight” to the New York Times. He added: “Every time she comes onstage I feel like I can breathe. Let her put a spell over the whole audience and I can just sit and watch.”

Best Leading Actress of a Musical: Victoria Clark in Kimberly Akimbo

Victoria Clark took home another win for the musical Kimberly Akimbo, as she accepted the “Best Leading Actress of a Musical” award. Clark played the role of ever-optimistic teen Kimberly in a performance “whose subtlety nearly masks its brilliance, but the feat that Clark carries off is no less than astonishing,” described Variety.

Victoria Clark holding her Tony for her role in "Kimberly Akimbo"
Victoria Clark holding her Tony for her role in “Kimberly Akimbo”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

Best Featured Actress of a Musical: Bonnie Milligan in Kimberly Akimbo

Yet another Kimberly Akimbo actress took home a big win as “Best Featured Actress of a Musical”: Bonnie Milligan, who played Kimberly’s hilarious criminal aunt. 

Bonnie Milligan holding her Tony for her role in "Kimberly Akimbo"
Bonnie Milligan holding her Tony for her role in “Kimberly Akimbo”/Photo by Emilio Madrid via Instagram @emiliomadrid

Variety described her performance as one that commanded laughs “with the authority and efficiency of a drill sergeant.” It added: “It’s a blast to see a performer so in control of her talents, especially as she plays Pied Piper to the musical’s young ensemble, show-choir nerds desperate for cash to make flashy costumes.”

Best Direction of a Musical: Michael Arden for Parade

Michael Arden won “Best Direction of a Musical” for his work on Parade. The accomplished actor-director accepted the award with a rousing speech on the dangers of bigotry in all its forms. 

Michael Arden with his Tony for Best Direction
Michael Arden with his Tony for Best Direction/Photo by Drew Elhamalawy via Instagram @michaelarden

Parade tells the story of a life that was cut short at the hands of the belief that one group of people is more or less valuable than another and that they might be more deserving of justice,” he stated. “This is a belief that is the core of antisemitism, of white supremacy, of homophobia, of transphobia and intolerance of any kind. We must come together.”

Best Direction of a Play: Patrick Marber for Leopoldstadt

As for “Best Direction of a Play,” the award went to Patrick Marber for Leopoldstadt. Marber has known the play’s creator, Tom Stoppard, since 1995. The two collaborated on the 2016 revival of the play Travesties before they started working on Leopoldstadt. However, Marber told Playbill that working on a new piece proved to be an entirely different experience. 

“The intensity of the work in putting on a new play by Tom Stoppard is different: higher stakes, more anxiety, and small things to need to get right. It’s a much bigger company. And it’s a play that takes place on a much larger scale,” the director shared. “It’s a heartfelt, incredible play for a man in his 80s to have written. People usually slow down, and write chamber plays, but this is an orchestral piece.”

Best Book of a Musical: David Lindsay-Abaire for Kimberly Akimbo

The best book of a musical went to David Lindsay-Abaire for his work, Kimberly Akimbo. Though the play was adapted into a musical, it retained much of the narrative and spirit of Lindsay-Abaire’s original 2000s piece. In an interview with Playbill, the writer described his work as “the saddest happy song I’ve ever heard or the happiest sad song I’ve ever heard.”

Best Original Score: Music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire for Kimberly Akimbo

David Lindsay-Abaire took home the Tony for “Best Original Score” with his lyrics and composer Jeanine Tesori’s music for Kimberly Akimbo

Best Choreography: Casey Nicholaw for Some Like It Hot

The Tony for “Best Choreography” went to Casey Nicholaw for his choreography in Some Like It Hot. Nicholaw is a Broadway veteran, having co-directed and choreographed the hit musicals Book of Mormon and Mean Girls

In an interview with Broadway World, he shared: “I just love[d] working on the show [Some Like It Hot]. I love the cast: they’re kind, hard working people, and they worked their butts off. And I did, too. But we also had fun doing it.”

Banner photo by Joan Marcus via Instagram @leopoldstadtbwy.

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