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Broadway and film star Joel Grey and John Kander, composer of Cabaret, Chicago and more, will receive the 2023 Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Grey was the original Amos Hart in the 1996 Chicago and the original Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award. He later received an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA for his performance in the film adaptation. Kander, who co-wrote those legendary musicals with the late lyricist Fred Ebb, is currently represented on Broadway with the musical New York, New York.
“We are immensely thrilled to honor two legends in their own rights. John Kander has composed the soundtrack to all of our lives – meeting us in every decade – creating unforgettable scores for Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and his current Broadway hit New York, New York,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.
“As a legendary actor and director, Joel Grey has made an everlasting impact, from Cabaret, to Goodtime Charley, The Normal Heart and his acclaimed Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof. Mr. Grey and Mr. Kander are true giants of the theatre, and we are honored to say Wilkommen as the recipients of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awards,” said Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing.
Ariana DeBose is scheduled to return to host the 76th Annual Tony Awards on June 11 at the United Palace in New York City’s Washington Heights. The status of the ceremony is currently unchanged, but could be disrupted by the Writers Guild of America strike, if writers cannot work on the show. The Tony Award nominations were announced Tuesday.
Jerry Mitchell, a Broadway director and choreographer, will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for his creation of Broadway Bares, which raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The 2023 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre will be awarded to production stage manager Lisa Dawn Cave; Victoria Bailey, executive director of the Theatre Development Fund, a nonprofit which expands access to theater; and theatrical accountant Robert Fried.
Grey made his Broadway debut in Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn in 1961. Since then, he has appeared in several Broadway productions, including Stop the World I Want to Get Off, Half a Sixpence, George M!, Goodtime Charley, The Grand Tour, Wicked, Anything Goes, and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. He also appeared in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart in its original run at the Public Theatre and later returned as co-director for the play’s 2011 Broadway premiere. He most recently directed Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, which won the 2019 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revival, the 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival, and a 2019 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award Special Citation.
His film credits include Man on A Swing, Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians, The Seven Percent Solution, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka, Altman’s The Player, The Music of Chance, Michael Ritchie’s adaptation of The Fantasticks, Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark and Clark Gregg’s Choke. Grey has frequently appeared on television on shows including Brooklyn Bridge, OZ, House, Brothers & Sisters, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy and the final episode of Dallas. He is currently in production on a second season of FX’s The Old Man, starring Jeff Bridges.
Kander attended Oberlin College in 1951 and earned an M.A. at Columbia. In the late fifties, worked as a pianist and vocal coach and conductor and later prepared dance arrangements for Gypsy and Irma La Douce. In 1962, Kander co-wrote the musical A Family Affair with James and William Goldman.
He began collaborating with Ebb that year and wrote the song My Coloring Book, which premiered on the Perry Como Show and later became a Barbra Streisand hit. From there, Kander and Ebb wrote their first stage musical, Flora the Red Menace, produced by Hal Prince, directed by George Abbott and starring Liza Minnelli. They went on to write Cabaret, Zorba, The Happy Time, 70 Girls 70, Chicago, The Act, Woman of the Year, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Steel Pier, Curtains, The Scottsboro Boys, The Visit and New York, New York.
The two also wrote original material for television and film including for the Academy Awards, Liza with a Z and HBO’s Liza Minnelli’s Steppin Out, Funny Lady, Lucky Lady, New York, New York, Stepping Out and Chicago The Movie. On his own, Kander also wrote the scores to projects including An Early Frost, Breathing Lessons, The Boys Next Door, Kramer vs. Kramer, Blue Skies Again and Places of the Heart. He received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in 2014.
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