NEW YORK: “Kimberly Akimbo”, about a teenager who ages in reverse, and Tom Stoppard’s autobiographical “Leopoldstadt” were among the winners yesterday as the Tony Awards went on despite the Writers Guild of America strike.
The three-hour telecast on CBS was hosted by Tony- and Academy Award-winner Ariana DeBose. Held for the first time at the United Palace in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, it leaned heavily on musical performances from the nominated shows, and other numbers including a dance performance in tribute to the recipients of the 2023 lifetime achievement awards, Joel Grey and John Kander.
Patrick Marber, who won best director of a play for “Leopoldstadt”, was among several winners who used their acceptance speeches to express support for the strike.
Marber added the evening was going well without writers because “actors are great improvisers and yeah, it’s fun. I wouldn’t like it to become a trend, but I’m not surprised”.
“Kimberly Akimbo” won best musical, beating out splashier, higher-budget productions such as “New York, New York” and “Some Like It Hot”. Victoria Clark, who won a Tony in 2005 for “The Light in the Piazza”, picked up her second award for her role as the title character.
Best play “Leopoldstadt”, which also won the 2020 Olivier Award in London for best new play, follows the experiences of a Jewish Viennese family over 50 years.
Sean Hayes won best lead actor in a play for his role as Oscar Levant in “Goodnight, Oscar”.
J Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell made Tony Awards history as the first two openly non-binary actors to win. Ghee won best actor in a leading role in a musical for “Some Like It Hot”, and Newell won for best actor in a featured role in a musical for the portrayal of brassy Lulu in “Shucked”.
Jodie Comer won best actress in a play for her role as brilliant barrister Tessa in the one-woman tour-de-force “Prima Facie”, while Michael Arden won for best direction of a musical for the revival of “Parade”. “Topdog/Underdog” won the Tony for best revival of a play.
During a pre-show hosted by actors Julianne Hough and Skyler Astin and streamed on the free US platform Pluto TV, the Tonys were awarded mostly in technical categories.
The pre-show included the award for best regional theatre, which went to the Pasadena Playhouse, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award, which went to director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell.