The 2023 Tony Awards got off to a lively start with an opening segment referencing the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strikes, which have impacted the musical theatre ceremony.

The biggest night in Broadway took place on Sunday night (11 June) at the United Palace in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighbourhood.

This year’s ceremony was presented by returning host, Academy Award-winner Ariana DeBose, who made a show-stopping entrance by leading an intricate dance number to open the show.

Follow along for live updates from the 2023 Tony Awards and see here for a rolling list of winners.

Before the dance number began, DeBose could be seen inside her dressing room opening a binder labelled “Script” – only to find blank pages inside.

The moment was an early reference to the ongoing writers’ strikes in Hollywood, which have impacted the Tonys this year.

While striking members of the Writers Guild of America have agreed not to picket the awards show, its writers were not permitted to work on the broadcast meaning that the biggest night in Broadway went ahead without an established script.

Jodie Comer attends The 76th Annual Tony Awards

(Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro)

DeBose addressed the ongoing strikes in her speech that followed the dance performance.

Taking to the stage, the West Side Story star highlighted the “blank pages” moment, stating there was “very good reason for that”.

“Our siblings over at the WGA are currently on strike in pursuit of a fair deal – and how many of us know what that is?” DeBose told the star-studded crowd who applauded in response.

“I’m sure some of you at home are thinking, ‘What does that have to do with the Tony Awards?’ Thank you for asking,” the actor continued.

“The awards shows are traditionally written by members of the WGA, so in order for the show to go on a whole host of people had to come together and find a compromise. For every single person who had a hand in finding that compromise, I say a full-throated thank you!” she said.

DeBose went on to explain what the “compromise” entailed, divulging: “We don’t have a script, you guys. I am live and unscripted. You’re welcome.

“So to anyone who thought that last year was a bit unhinged, to them I say, ‘Darlings, buckle up!’”

She added: “In all seriousness, I am unscripted as is every presenter who is on stage tonight […] That also means no teleprompters.”

DeBose went on to point out two monitors in the theatre, stating that they would only be used to display countdowns in order to inform award recipients when it is time to wrap up their speeches.

“But honeys, take your moment – tonight is about you!” concluded DeBose.

Viewers can expect a lively evening full of song-and-dance numbers ahead, with performances from the casts of Camelot, Into the Woods, & Juliet, Kimberly Akimbo, New York, New York, Parade, Shucked, Some Like It Hot and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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