Broadway’s Denée Benton calls Ron DeSantis ‘grand wizard’ on Tony Awards broadcast – The Denver Post

Broadway veteran Denée Benton referred to Gov. Ron DeSantis as the “grand wizard” of Florida at the 2023 Tony Awards, receiving a large round of applause from the Washington Heights audience.

“Grand Wizard” historically is the title given to the national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Benton, who is from Orlando, made the remark as she presented Jason Zembuch-Young, a teacher in Plantation, Fla., with a special Tony Award.

“I’m sure he will be changing the name of this following town immediately,” Benton said of DeSantis from the United Palace stage.

Last month, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, setting up a race against Donald Trump.

Benton received a 2017 Tony nomination for her portrayal of Natasha in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812″ and has also starred on Broadway as Eliza Hamilton in “Hamilton” and Cinderella in “Into the Woods.”

Zembuch-Young received the honor for incorporating deaf and blind students, as well as performers on the on the autism spectrum, in his high school stage productions.

“I think that more young deaf people that see deaf actors know that they can actually be deaf actors,” Zembuch-Young told The Associated Press. “More kids that come to a production that are blind and they hear about the fact that somebody on the stage is as blind as they are, it makes it attainable.”

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