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Creating a Tony Awards opener without any lyrics

Orchestrator and arranger Macy Schmidt tells Broadway News how the number celebrating the awards uptown venue came to be.

Macy Schmidt (Credit: Rebecca J Michelson)

On May 19, orchestrator Macy Schmidt received a call from Tony Awards host Ariana DeBose asking if she would like to create the opening number to the 2023 Tony Awards — in three days’s time.

Earlier this season, Schmidt became the first woman-of-color orchestrator on Broadway, contributing additional orchestrations to “Kimberly Akimbo.” During the pandemic, she founded the Broadway Sinfonietta, an all-women and majority women-of-color orchestra. On June 11, she debuted her original Tony Awards opener — which she did write in three days — showcasing soloists on behalf of the Sinfonietta and celebrating Broadway in a fresh and singular way.

In abiding with the terms agreed upon between Tony Awards Productions and the Writer’s Guild of America (so the Tonys could proceed as scheduled during the ongoing writer’s strike), the opener would not contain lyrics. It would be an orchestral mashup of music.

“[Host] Ari DeBose, who is such a creative visionary, had an idea of celebrating dancers and the storytelling that dancers can do,” Schmidt told Broadway News. “I, as an orchestrator and the founder of an orchestra, was like, ‘Well, dancers and musicians can storytell in lieu of words.’”

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