Ariane Dubose and
performers at the 76th Tony Awards. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty
Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Hail and Farewell
“A picture is worth
1000 words.” That old adage is beautifully once again proven when the Writers
Guild of America writers went on strike and deemed the 2023 Tonys scriptless, as
indicated – wordlessly -- by the clever opening picture of an empty page script.
Triple threat dancers, singers, and actors proved they could still put on a
show. The result was a tighter, more focused program minus the momentum-and energy-killing
There were many
elements that distinguished this year‘s Tony Awards. First, the move uptown to
Lin Manuel Miranda‘s neighborhood in Washington Heights, away from the typical
Broadway hangouts: what an eye-opener! Lin-Manuel exclaimed, “Never in my
wildest dreams!” as he welcomed the crowd to his neighborhood: 175th St.,
corner of Broadway: the United Palace, an ornate, former movie house with 3000 seats.
The most prevalent element
was the writers strike which created some omissions, not to mention the
occasional profanity that escaped the lips of those on stage, in the emotion of
the moment, and liberated from teleprompters. Also was endearing to viewers who
are already addicted to live theater. The writers strike also meant that there
were no scripted introductions. Presenters were merely announced and delivered
just the facts. There were no jokes or transitions.
As usual, Theater
acted as the bulwark against serious issues like antisemitism, as evidenced by
giving the awards to Leopoldstadt, (Best Play) and Parade (Best
The Tony-winners list
would become too serious without humor, which played a major part in the
season. Shows such as Fat Ham and &Juliet offered fearless
skewering, taking the sacrosanct out of Shakespeare. Then there was Shucked
and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which unapologetically dug deep down into
belly laughs and corny jokes, plus lowering of standards, opting in favor of
slapstick and bawdy jokes.
Also, the time was
allotted to the heart of theater, honoring teachers and local theater companies
that assure its future. Excellence in Theatre awards went to accountant and
professor Robert Fried, Stage Manager Lisa Dawn Cave, and Victoria Bailey,
director of TDF. Pasadena Playhouse won the Regional Theatre Award.
All in all, a season
of excellent theater, in houses that were more full than recent years, added up
to exciting, terrific Tony awards. Challenges be damned: on with the show!
- Jeannie Lieberman,
2023-23 was a season
of nervous hits, coming as the Covid pandemic gradually waned. Many theaters
had mask requirements at the start of the season, and houses were less full
than they could have been.
Broadway show must be selling at 60% capacity in order to survive the season.
Many shows had difficulty reaching that. The June, 2023 Tony Awards did give a
boost to attendance and income, but a spate of post-Tony closings prove that
belief is not infallible.
Many shows have had
higher grosses in the weeks since the Tonys, but these winners have closed: Fat
Ham, Leopoldstadt, Prima Facie and The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.
In fairness, all were limited runs, scheduled to close on July 2 before
they won their Tony awards.
However, as a
testimony to the health of the industry, there is an abundance of exciting
shows opening this summer and fall – next year’s Tony contenders, knocking on
usual, invites you to tune in, as we peruse them all.
BROADWAY: SUMMER 2023
Once Upon a One More Time
Back to the Future
Here Lies Love
The Shark is Broken
BROADWAY: FALL/WINTER 2023
Etheredge: My Window
Gutenberg! The Musical!
Merrily We Roll Along
winter-spring has also scheduled a revival of The Wiz, and the
first-ever Broadway production of The Mousetrap.
Public has announced its season, which includes a musical adaptation of
Shakespeare’s The Tempest; Hell’s Kitchen, loosely based on
Alicia Key’s own experiences; Manahatta; The Ally; Sally &
Tom; Jordans; and Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy.
Roundabout Theater Company has announced its 23-24 schedule. For Broadway, they
have I Need That; Doubt; and Home; their Off-Broadway offerings are
The Refuge Plays; Covenant; and Jonah.
the Roundabout, Manhattan
Theater Club offers both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Their 23-24
season, thus far: on Broadway, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding and
Prayer for the French Republic. Off-Broadway, they’ll present Poor Yella
Rednecks and Brooklyn Laundry.
shows will be scheduled soon. Keep an eye on Theaterscene.com; we’ll keep you
posted on upcoming shows.
- Jeanne Lieberman, Publisher