There may not be a script, but there will be singing. In light of this evening's Tony Awards ceremony airing unscripted due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, many have wondered: Will there be an opening number? Fear not, as Broadway's "fairy godfairy" Benjamin Rauhala and Broadway Sinfonietta founder Macy Schmidt have teamed up to construct, arrange, and orchestrate an opening number for Ariana DeBose to perform for the 76th Annual Tony Awards on CBS.
It will presumably be a medley consisting of pre-existing Broadway hits reimagined and newly orchestrated, thus not crossing the picket line of script writing, or rather, lyric writing. This new medley came after Lin-Manuel Miranda pulled the song he was working on for the opening number, in solidarity with the WGA strike.
Schmidt wrote about working on the opening number in an Instagram post on June 10, stating that although this feat had its "guardrails," it's a decade-long dream come true for her. "Right at the top of the professional bucket list that sits taped on my desk, it says 'Tony Awards Opening Number.' ... Never in a million years would I have imagined that it would actually mean getting to construct, arrange, and orchestrate one, and for such a historically unique year," wrote Schmidt.
Music Director Benjamin Rauhala, who Schmidt fondly refers to in the Instagram post as "fairy godfairy," is widely known for his masterful medley-making, often lending his talents to the beloved Broadway Princess Party concerts at 54 Below, which have starred Disney musical alums such as Susan Egan and Courtney Reed, plus others known for "princess" characters, like Christy Altomare. The limited engagement concerts became so popular that they produced a national tour.
As Schmidt said in her Instagram post announcing the news—"You all aren’t ready for what Ariana DeBose is about to serve up."
The opening number will be one of many performances being served up at this year's ceremony. It seems that due to the lack of script, the Tony Awards are turning to filling out the evening with performances. There will be performances from all of the Best Musical and Revival of a Musical nominees—including Camelot; Into the Woods; & Juliet; Kimberly Akimbo; New York, New York; Parade; Shucked; Some Like It Hot; and Sweeney Todd.
2022 Best Leading Actress in a Musical winner Joaquina Kalukango (Paradise Square) will be on hand for a performance, and there will be a special number honoring 2023 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award honorees Joel Grey and John Kander. The broadcast will also feature performances from two recent productions overlooked by the Tony Awards, A Beautiful Noise and Funny Girl.
The 76th Annual Tony Awards will be held June 11 at United Palace in NYC's Washington Heights. The festivities will kick-off with an all-star red carpet at 4 PM ET, with coverage going live at Playbill.com and on Playbill's Instagram soon thereafter. At-home broadcasts begin with The Tony Awards: Act One at 6:30 PM ET on Pluto TV's Celebrity channel, followed by the main awards ceremony broadcasting live on CBS and streaming via Paramount+ for premium-level subscribers at 8 PM ET. Act One will be hosted by Julianne Hough and Skylar Astin, with West Side Story Oscar winner and Broadway favorite Ariana DeBose back for a second consecutive year hosting the main ceremony.
Stay tuned to Playbill throughout the evening for the latest in news, pictures, analysis, and more from Broadway's biggest night. And if you plan on playing along from home, make sure you have your official and printable Playbill Tony Awards ballot, which you can get here.
While you wait for the evening to begin, visit Playbill.com/Tonys to get caught up with all our coverage of the 2023 Tony Awards.