Teenage tale dominates the Tonys


Kimberly Akimbo, a new musical, took five Tony Awards. (Photgo courtesy of the Tony Awards and the Kimberlyh Akimbo musical production company)
Kimberly Akimbo, a new musical, took five Tony Awards. (Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards and the Kimberly Akimbo musical production company)

Watching the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards was refreshing Sunday night

We didn’t have hosts trying to be funny or clever. And whether our idea of who should win actually took home the Tony, we got to see some excellent Broadway performances.

In case you missed the show here are the Tony winners:

Best Play – Leopoldstadt plus Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, Brandon Uranowitz, Best Director of a Play Patrick Marber and Best Costume Design of a Play Brigette Reiffensteul in a 50-year-long family saga of love, faith, identity by Tom Stoppard. If you get to NY this June try to see it at the Longacre Theatre before it leaves July, 2, 2023.

Best Musical – Kimberly Akimbo by multi award winners David Lindsay Abaire and Jeanine Tesori  is among the show’s five Tony Awards. The show also won awards for Best Book of a Musical (Abaire), Best Original Score, Best Actress in a Musical (Victoria Clark) and Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, Bonnie Milligan. The theme is a very different teenager tale about struggles that range from family secrets to her own disease of rapid physical aging.

Best Revival of a Play – Top Dog-Underdog by Pulitzer Prize winner Susan Lori-Parks that is a dark comedy of two brothers back on Broadway for its 20th anniversary.

Best Revival of a Musical – Parade, a Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry musical about a dramatic, true, grave injustice in Georgia.

Best Actor in a Leading Role – Sean Hayes for Good Night, Oscar, by Doug Wright about troubled entertainer Oscar Levant. The show with Sean Hayes in the starring role came from Goodman Theatre in Chicago where it was a sell-out hit.

Best Actress in a Leading Role – Jodie Comer as Tessa in  Prima Facie by Suzie Miller about a young, brilliant barrister facing a moral conflict. A short Broadway run, the show opened in April at the John Golden theatre but closes July 2, 2023.

Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – J. Harrison Ghee for Some Like It Hot. Yes, it’s the old story of two musicians (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in the 1959 Billy Wilder/IAL Diamond film) who are fleeing the Chicago mob by train during Prohibition. The current show’s Book is by Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin with Music by Marc Shaiman and Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. It has an open run at the Shubert Theatre.

For Best Actress in a Musical see Kimberly Akimbo/Victoria Clark above.

Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Miriam Silverman in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window which takes place in  Sidney and Iris Brustein’s Greenwich Village apartment where ideals sardonically clash with reality in the 1960s.

Best performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical -Alex Newell for Shucked, a show with the unlikely theme of mixing a NYC comedy writer with two Nashville stars.

Best performance by an Actress in a Featured role in a Musical – Bonne Milligan see Kimberly Akimbo above.

For more Tony categories and winners visit Tony Awards.

Jodie Jacobs


‘Hadestown’ and ‘Ferryman’ take multiple Tonys but revivals and adaptions also popular

Cast of 'The Ferryman' which won four Tony Awards. (Photo courtesy of The Ferryman Production.
Cast of ‘The Ferryman’ which won four Tony Awards. (Photo courtesy of The Ferryman Production.


You might have a favorite TV series and are bemoaning the end of Downton Abbey but the Tony Awards broadcast form Radio City Music Hall, Sunday, reminded folks of what theater is all about. – live dramatic and musical performances.

Host James Corden and the casts of Tony nominated shows put on a lengthy, fun-filled number about performing live. Though he did run up to the cameras saying “Forget what I just said… TV pays us better.”

If you watch the Academy or the Tony Awards on TV you do see the nominees’ reactions to winning and losing. So Corden looked for a few nominees in the audience and asked them to put on their best “loosing” expression.

The fun moment may have helped when the winners were announced because the losers seemed to try to wear their best congratulatory expressions.

Those expressions were particularly in force when Ali Stroker who performed her Ado Annie’s “I Cain’t Say No” song  from her wheelchair, won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical  for “Oklahoma” and when 80-something-year-old comedienne, screenwriter, film director, actress Elaine May received the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for “The Waverly Gallery. ”

Here is a brief look at who and what took home Tony Awards.  For the complete list please visit TonyAwards/Winners.

Hadestown” (14 nominations) was the big winner with eight awards including Best Musical  and best actor in a featured role in a musical, André De Shields. Written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the show combines the mythical tales of Orpheus and Eurydice with King Hades and wife Perspehone.

Ferryman” (nine nominations) was the next big winner with four Tonys including Best Play . Written by Jez Butterworth and directed by Sam Mendes it is a thriller that takes place in Northern Ireland in 1981.

“Ink,” “The Cher Show,”  “Oklahoma” and “Tootsie,” each took home two awards.

Ink” (6 nominations), written by James Graham and directed by Rupert Goold, is based on Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the The Sun newspaper  and his aim to destroy the competition with the help of editor Larry Lamb and a team of reporters. Set in 1969 London, the show brought Bertie Carvel the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play as Murdoch. Neil Austin received a Tony for Best Lighting Design of a Play.

The Cher Show” (3 nominations)  previewed in Chicago before taking a “made-up show”about the entertainer’s life (so far) to Broadway. No surprise that Cher’s costumer Bob Mackie took the Tony for Best Costume Design. The show also brought Stephanie J. Block the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.

Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma  (8 nominations)  received Tony Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (see above) and Best Revival of a Musical.

Tootsie – (11 nomination) won a Tony for Robert Horn for Best Book of a Musical and a Tony for Santino Fontana for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

“Choir Boy,” “The Boys in the Band,” “Network,” “Aint Too Proud,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Waverly Gallery” each won one Tony.

Choir Boy,” (4 nominations) Tarell Alvin McCraney’s gender-sensitive show about making it in a choir was directed by Trip Cullman.

The Boys in the Band,” (2 nominations), by Matt Crowley and directed by Joe Mantello about a group of gay men, won Best Featured Actor in a Play  for Robin de Jesus.

Network,” ( 5 nominations) Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Academy Award-winning film about an anchorman who falls apart while live on-screen, won Bryan Cranston Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play as anchorman Howard Beale.

Aint Too Proud” about the life and times of the Temptations, won Best Choreography for Sergio Trujillo.

To Kill a Mockingbird”  (9 nominations), Harper Lee’s famed play, adopted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bartlett Sher, brought Celia Keenan-Bolger the Tony for  Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured role in a Play.

The Waverly Gallery ” (1 nomination) by Kenneth Lonergan about a grandson watching his grandmother die from Alzheimer’s disease, brought in a Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.  (see above)

Check these show’s websites given here for their Broadway schedule.

Jodie Jacobs




A few thoughts on Chicago at the Tony Awards

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.

Steppenwolf in Chicago (Photo by Kyle Flubacker)
Steppenwolf in Chicago
(Photo by Kyle Flubacker)

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.

Jodie Jacobs