Last night’s Tony Awards reflected that Washington’s influence on American theatre is being felt in New York. Pre-broadcast, Eric Schaeffer accepted regional theatre’s highest recognition, the Regional Tony Award, on the verge of Signature’s 20th year. “Our last world premiere ran four hours long, had 21 actors, 15 in the orchestra and 276 [people] in the audience. It sounds crazy – but that’s why Signature is Signature.”
Arena Stage’s productions of Next to Normal, and 33 Variations were nominated for a combined 16 Tony Awards. The first win came at 7:20 pm, also pre-broadcast, when Derek McLane accepted the Tony for his set design of 33 Variations. Also before the 8 pm start time, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey picked up a Best Orchestrations Tony for Next to Normal (shared with Martin Koch for Billy Elliot).
Prime time audiences saw Kitt andYorkey win for Best Musical Score for Next to Normal. Recognizing the contribution made by Arena Stage in allowing its creators to come to Washington to re-think the show, Yorkey said “We’re so blessed to be supported by Molly Smith and David Dower and the Arena Stage in Washington.”
Karen Olivo won the Best Featured Actress Award for her sizzling portrayal of Anita in the Arthur Laurents directed revival of West Side Story, which had a tryout at The National Theatre this year before the show arrived on Broadway. “A lot of people said I couldn’t do this. If you surround yourself with people who love you, you can do anything.”
The evening was nearly over when we learned that Alice Ripley won Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as Diana Goodman, a wife suffering from manic depression in Next to Normal. She thanked the director, producer and composer and lyricist of Next To Normal, “…Michael Grief, David Stone, Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey, you all lead the show to the end result of it being a fine art and I’m so honored to be a part of the show”.
This year, DC Theatre Scene’s Joel Markowitz has had the pleasure of bringing you interviews with many of these Tony winners.
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey before the Arena Stage opening night
Karen Olivo soon after the opening of West Side Story at the National
A podcast with Alice Ripley backstage at Arena Stage.
A full list of the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Award winners is here.