Tony Awards: Joel Grey, John Kander to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honors

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Joel Grey and John Kander will receive special honors at this year’s Tony Awards, for lifetime achievements in theater.

Kander, a composer and one half of the songwriting duo known as Kander and Ebb, wrote the scores for 15 musicals, including “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” both of which were turned into feature films. Grey is best known for originating the Master of Ceremonies in the musical “Cabaret” on Broadway and also portrayed the Wizard of Oz in the contemporary hit “Wicked.”

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“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.

Kander became a pianist, vocal coach and conductor in his late 50s and started professionally by preparing dance arrangements for “Gypsy” and “Irma La Douce.” In 1962, Kander co-wrote the musical “A Family Affair” with James and William Goldman. That same year, he was introduced to another up-and-coming writer and lyricist, Fred Ebb. The Kander and Ebb collaboration, which spans four decades, began with the song “My Coloring Book” and went on to include shows such as “Zorba,” “The Happy Time,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and most recently “New York, New York.”

Grey made his Broadway debut in 1961 with the Neil Simon comedy “Come Blow Your Horn.” He has since appeared on the stage in “Stop the World I Want to Get Off,” “Half a Sixpence,” “Goodtime Charley,” “Chicago,” “Anything Goes” and Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

A Tony and Oscar Award winner, Grey most recently directed the Yiddish production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” He received an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA for the 1972 film version of “Cabaret,” directed by Bob Fosse. He is one of only nine actors to have won both the Tony and Academy Award for the same role.

“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,'” says Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “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.”

Hosted by Ariana DeBose, the Tony Awards will air on Sunday, June 11, from the United Palace in New York City. Nominations were announced on Tuesday, with “Some Like It Hot” leading the way with 13 nods. The musical-comedy was followed closely behind by “& Juliet,” “Shucked” and “New York, New York,” which scored nine nominations apiece.

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