If watching the 2018Tony Awards this past Sunday, June 10, you wouldn’t have heard much about the winners’ backgrounds or that of the people listed in the Tony Memorial to playwrights, directors, actors, choreographers and producers who recently died.
But when Chicago audiences heard the name Laurie Metcalf, John Mahoney, David Cromer, Rachel Rockwell or Jessie Mueller they were likely to nod, particularly if they have been longtime theater patrons.
Metcalf likely received cheers from colleagues back at Steppenwolf when she won Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Edward Albee’s “Three tall Women.”
When Mahoney’s death (Chicago, Feb. 4, 2018) scrolled down the Memorial screen, his long time Steppenwolf and Chicago theater fans likely nodded or sighed.
Both members of Steppenwolf’s Ensemble, Metcalf and Mahoney had performed together in such productions as “You Can’t take It With You.” Even with her demanding film and New York/London stage schedule Metcalf has returned to do shows at Steppenwolf as she did summer of 2016 for “Voice Lessons.”
I last saw Mahoney when he gave a terrific performance with Francis Guinan in Steppenwolf’s “The Rembrandt.”
When Cromer stepped up to receive the Tony Award for Best Direction Of A Musical, he did so to loud applause for his insightful handling of “The Band’s Visit.” A remarkable musical by David Yazbek about Egyptian musicians who were lost in an Israeli desert town where their visit changed them and the town. The musical walked off with 10 Tony Awards, as it should have.
However, Chicago audiences may remember that Cromer an Illinois native, had won Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards for “Angels in America Parts I and II” in 1998, “The Price” in 2002 and “The Cider House Rules” in 2003. Will Chicago see him again?
With Rachel Rockwell’s recent death (May 28, 2018) still fresh in the minds of the Chicago theater community as an outstanding director and choreographer, it was an “oh, thank you” moment for some of us watching back home when it made the Tony Memorial.
Evanston native Jessie Mueller was also on the Tony program, nominated for her starring role as Julie Jordan in “Carousel” revival on Broadway, The Tony winner in 2014 for her performance as Carol King in “Beautiful,” Mueller had won the Joseph Jeffereson award as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel in 2008.
With all the theater talent we have here in the Chicago area it really isn’t a surprise to see some of it recognized during the Tony Awards. Let’s see what next year brings.