Fifty-six years after they each won Tony Awards for the Broadway smash Cabaret, actor Joel Grey and composer John Kander will receive 2023 Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. The awards will be presented at the 76th Annual Tony Awards, which will air live on Sunday, June 11.
The award may soften the disappointment Kander may have felt in recent weeks, when his score for New York, New York, on which he teamed with Lin-Manuel Miranda, was ruled ineligible for a Tony nomination for best original score.
Grey won featured actor in a musical for his role as the Emcee in Cabaret at the 21st annual Tony Awards on March 26, 1967. (It was the first Tony ceremony to be nationally televised). Kander and his late collaborator, lyricist Fred Ebb, won two Tonys on the night, for best musical and best original musical score.
Kander and Ebb went on to win two additional Tonys for best original score for Woman of the Year and Kiss of the Spider Woman: The Musical.
They also shared a Grammy for the Cabaret cast album and two Emmys, for Singer Presents Liza With a Z (1973) and Liza Minnelli Live From Radio City Music Hall (1993), both starring Liza Minnelli, the star of Cabaret. (Kander and Ebb would have become EGOT winners had they also earned an Oscar.) They were nominated for best original song twice, for “How Lucky Can You Get” from Funny Lady (1975) and “I Move On” from the screen adaptation of Chicago (2002).
Ebb, who died in 2004, did not receive a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, nor has Minnelli, though the star did receive a special Tony in 1974 “for adding lustre to the Broadway season.”
Kander and Ebb also received two Grammy nominations for song of the year, for “My Coloring Book” (1962) and “Theme From New York, New York” (1980). Minnelli introduced the latter song in the 1977 film of the same name, but it didn’t become a standard until Frank Sinatra covered it in 1980.
In addition to his Tony for Cabaret, Grey won an Oscar for reprising the role in the 1972 film adaptation. He is one of only nine actors in history to win a Tony and an Oscar for the same role. He has also received Grammy and Primetime Emmy nominations, for Anything Goes and Brooklyn Bridge, respectively.
“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,” Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, said in a statement.
“We are immensely thrilled to honor two legends in their own rights,” added Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League.
Hosted by Ariana DeBose, the 76th Annual Tony Awards will air live on Sunday, June 11, from the historic United Palace in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City from 8 to 11 p.m. ET/ 5 to 8 p.m. PT on CBS. The show will also stream live and on demand on Paramount+.