"We are immensely thrilled to honor two legends in their own rights," says Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin in a statement. "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."
"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," adds American Theatre Wing President and CEO Heather Hitchens. "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."
The pairing is particularly appropriate as Grey and Kander's careers have been indelibly linked since Grey won a Tony Award creating the role of The Emcee in Kander's 1966 musical Cabaret, a role he would repeat for the 1973 film adaptation, also winning an Academy Award. The two reunited in 1996 when Grey starred as Amos Hart in the original company of the now long-running revival of Kander's Chicago.
Grey's career has also seen Broadway performances in Come Blow Your Horn, Stop the World I Want to Get Off, Half a Sixpence, George M!, Goodtime Charley, The Grand Tour, Wicked, Anything Goes, and The Cherry Orchard. As a director, he co-directed the 2011 Broadway revival of The Normal Heart with George C. Wolfe, and also helmed the recent Off-Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, winner of the 2019 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical Revival.
Kander is best known as one-half of the legendary Broadway duo of Kander and Ebb, a collaboration that gave us such musicals as 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, and The Visit. Kander is currently represented on Broadway with New York, New York, a new musical that combines Kander and Ebb's songs written for the 1977 film of the same name with a number of songs from their extensive back catalogue, along with original songs written by Kander with lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda. Fred Ebb passed away in 2004.
Grey and Kander will accept their honors at the 76th Annual Tony Awards, set for June 11 at Washington Heights' United Palace Theatre. The evening will kick off with The Tony Awards: Act One, a 90-minute pre-show of live and exclusive content set to stream for free on Pluto TV beginning at 6:30 PM ET. Hosts and further details are to be announced. The main awards ceremony, hosted by West Side Story Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, will follow beginning at 8 PM ET, broadcasting live on CBS (check local listings) and streaming live (for premium-level subscribers) via Paramount+. All Paramount+ subscribers will have on demand access to the broadcast beginning June 12.
Check back with Playbill for the latest news and analysis around Broadway's top honors, all the way to the big night.