Published: 10:09, June 13, 2023 | Updated: 17:15, June 13, 2023
Chinese musical actor invited to attend Tony Awards
By ​Minlu Zhang in New York

Chinese actor Ayanga attends the 76th Tony Awards in New York City on Sunday. (PHOTO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE)

On Broadway in New York City, with the COVID-19 pandemic's impact having retreated, and patrons once again lining up at theater entrances, the industry held its most esteemed awards on Sunday.

The 2023 Tony Awards, which honor the best plays and musicals on Broadway each year, held their 76th annual ceremony on Sunday at the United Palace Theater in Manhattan. This year, the Tony Awards invited Chinese actor Ayanga.

Ayanga, one of the most popular musical actors in China, is the leading actor in the Chinese version of The Phantom of the Opera. The Mongolian-ethnic singer is also the lead actor who plays the hero Edmond Dantes in the Chinese version of The Count of Monte Cristo.

"As a musical theater actor, it was my great privilege and pleasure to be invited to the Tony Awards," Ayanga said at a news conference on Sunday at the Harvard Club in New York.

"As a Chinese musical actor who has come to New York to learn and exchange ideas with masters of the musical industry, I genuinely hope to develop collaborations with them and contribute to the growth of Chinese musical theater in the future," he said.

Musical theater has transcended language and culture. Through the use of song, dance and drama, musicals aim to narrate the essence of humanity's truth, goodness and beauty. And the most popular musicals have a profound impact on hearts and emotions, Ayanga said.

Cultural exchange

"One additional dimension of my trip is to strengthen the cultural exchange between China and the US, as it holds immense importance and meaning," he said.

The Tony Awards, along with the Academy, Grammy and Emmy awards, are considered one of the four major annual entertainment awards in the US.

While the Emmy Awards celebrate television achievements, the Grammy Awards honor musical accomplishments, and the Academy Awards (Oscars) commend outstanding filmmaking, the Tony Awards specifically acknowledge excellence in live theater performances, distinguishing it as a prestigious recognition in the theater world.

The 76th Tony Awards China Red Carpet Press Conference was held at the Harvard Club in New York City on Sunday by Tony Awards China, which serves as the official operating platform for the award in China.

"We are very excited to have a dialogue and exchange through this event, which brings the top artists and professionals in the theater industry from around the world and also brings our Chinese color and Chinese impact to international (venues)," Shirley Chen, chairwoman of Tony Awards China, said at the news conference.

Founded in 2010, Tony Awards China is committed "to be the bridge of cultural exchanges between China and the US, and continue to develop and to be the most impactful messenger in the theater industry", Chen said.

"Harvard University has been, for many years, a place where students from China have pursued their education, both in our college and also in our graduate schools. So it's been appropriate (that) the Broadway association with China is celebrated here in the Harvard Club, in the president's room, our most distinguished and elegant room that is saved only for the very special events," said Charles Sullivan, president of Premier Event Management, which co-organized the event.