Mantello wins the Tony for Best Direction

The Tony Awards at Rockefeller Center in New York City on June 6 celebrated music, dance and drama, honoring those whose creativity brings to the stage the best of theater. Joe Mantello garnered a Tony for Best Direction of a Musical Revival, Assassins. When accepting the award, he recognized Jon Weidman’s book, musical direction by Paul Gemignani and Stephen Sondheim’s magnificent music and lyrics. He said, “Some experiences are their own awards,” while complimenting an exceptional cast.

Assassins also won for Best Orchestration and Best Lighting. Currently running on Broadway is another work directed by Mantello, Wicked, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. It, too, was nominated for Best Musical, and won for Best Scenic Design and Best Costumes. Idina Menzel accepted her Tony for Best Actress in a Musical and acknowledged Mantello’s tough touch in direction.

Since seeing Mantello’s work in 1995 in Terrence McNally’s Love, Valour, Compassion, for which he received his first nomination for direction, my admiration has grown. A gracious gentleman, he has corresponded and personally thanked me for my interest. Graduating from Boylan High School in 1980, active in local theater, attending the North Carolina School for the Performing Arts, he went on to become a successful actor in Los Angeles and on Broadway, winning a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Play for Angels in America, Part I and Part II. His is a special talent; we wish him well.

The opportunity to see so much fine theater is one for which I am continually grateful. Currently on Broadway, Raisin in the Sun, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, 42nd Street, Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors, Rent, Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, Dial M for Murder, Fame, Finian’s Rainbow and Othello are just a few of the productions seen over the years in Chicago, New York, New American Theater, the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre, and as touring shows at the Coronado. Theater adds a special richness to my life, and the many people encountered have my deepest admiration. Their devotion and sacrifice enables us to see the world with depth.


Steppenwolf’s production of I Never Sang for My Father starring John Mahoney touched me deeply. Kevin Anderson as Gene, a son dealing with his father’s and mother’s demise, their insistence for independenace in an intolerable situation is one we all face, and when the end arrives, we question our decisions as caretakers. Following the performance, a group of counselors contributed some excellent insights into the grieving process—one of Steppenwolf’s best plays of the season.

Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center presented Quilters last weekend. Having seen several casts and directors, it remains a favorite. Musically, it is one of the best. Timm Adams’ musical direction creates vocal arrangements for a talented group of singers—Margaret Imrie as Jenny, Carolyn Cadigan as Margaret, Misha Lentz as Lisa, Makeesha Sharp as Jody, Crystal Davidson as Jane, and reprising her role of Sarah, Angie Fellows as the Mother. A story of pioneer women whose quilts represent the struggles and joys of life, Quilters is a production to be enjoyed over and over.

There is much news of upcoming local theater…to be continued.

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