How to watch
The 76th annual Tony Awards will be presented tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, live in person at the United Palace in Washington Heights, and simultaneously broadcast and/or streamed on three different channels: from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the “Pluto TV Celebrity” channel (no payment, registration or sign-in required), then from 8 to 11 pm on both CBS (if you’ve cut the cord, the CBS app is available in the app store) and Paramount+ (7 day free trial available)
What you’ll be watching
Twenty-seven of the shows that opened on Broadway during the 2022-2023 Broadway season have been nominated in twenty-six competitive categories. (Fifteen of the 27 are still running, although several of them have imminent closing dates.)
During the so-called pre-show at 6:30 pm, hosts Julianne Hough (who starred in the 2022 comedy “POTUS”) and Skylar Astin (who was in the original “Spring Awakening”) will present the awards for design and other so-called creative categories.
Starting at 8 p.m. Ariana DeBose (six-time Broadway veteran and Oscar winning actress in last year’s “West Side Story” remake) will serve as host for the second year in a row. This is where the “major” awards will be presented, including all eight categories for performers.
For those not obsessed with Broadway, the main reason to watch the show is surely the performances. There will be musical numbers performed by the casts of all five shows nominated for best musical — “& Juliet,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “New York, New York,” “Shucked” and “Some Like It Hot” — and all four shows nominated for best musical revival — “Camelot,” “Into the Woods,” “Parade” and “Sweeney Todd” — as well as a musical number from ““A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical,” which also opened in the 2022-2023 season but received no Tony nominations.
Lea Michele will lead a number from the revival of “Funny Girl” (which opened in April 2022 and is not eligible for Tonys this year) and Joaquina Kalukango, who won the Tony last year for her role in “Paradise Square,” will sing a song to accompany the In Memoriam photo gallery of members of the theater community who have died since last year.
This year, to avoid a picket line by the striking Writers Guild of America (which would have forced a cancellation of the broadcast), the Tony Awards agreed not to use any scripted content during the ceremony. It’s therefore unclear how much of a role the hosts will play, but for the average viewer, this accommodation will probably have its pluses and its minuses. The plus is that there will be more singing and dancing. The minus is that this makes it likely for even less attention to be paid to this year’s nominated straight plays, which always get short shrift, and were particularly strong this season, including three plays that previously won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and some extraordinary performances.
Of course, the unscripted moments at the Tony Awards are always among the most memorable — which is to say, the acceptance speeches.
The Tonys are a culmination of a month-long theater award season. Check out my Guide to New York Theater Awards 2023, which explains the history of each award (including the Tonys) and links to the lists of winners (many of which/whom have been nominated for Tonys as well.)