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School of Communication celebrates alumni Tony Award nominees

Don’t be surprised if you recognize a few faces from the live broadcast of the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards this year—you’re guaranteed to see two Northwestern University School of Communication alumni on the screen, no matter how the votes go.

During the live telecast of the 69th annual ceremony on Sunday, June 7 (airing at 7 p.m., Central), John Cameron Mitchell (C85) will receive a Special Tony Award, and Brian d’Arcy James (C90) will perform a selection from the musical Something Rotten! James is nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for that production.

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Also up for recognition are Barbara Whitman, a member of the School of Communication’s National Advisory Council, and Tom Casserly (C11), both producers of Fun Home, which is up for 12 nominations, including Best Musical. Updated June 8: The Whitman and Casserly-produced Fun Home was the big winner of the night, taking home five Tony Awards on Sunday, including Best Musical.

Other Northwestern connections to the Tony Awards this year:

  • This Is Our Youth, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, the Marjorie Hoffman Hagan, Class of 1934, Chair of Theatre, and designed by theatre professor Todd Rosenthal, is nominated for Best Play. Shapiro and Rosenthal have both been nominated twice for Tony Awards. Shapiro won Best Director and Rosenthal Best Scenic Design in 2008 for August: Osage County. This Is Our Youth originated at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where Martha Lavey (C79, GC86, GC94, H10) is artistic director.
  • The Last Ship, with book written by John Logan (C83), is nominated for Best Score and Best Orchestrations. Logan won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2010 for Red.

Brian d’Arcy James (with Christian Borle) in Something Rotten! (Photo by Joan Marcus)

John Cameron Mitchell’s Special Tony Award will recognize his career as both a performer and a writer. He is an Obie Award- and Drama Desk Award-nominated actor, appearing in Broadway’s Big River and the original casts of The Secret Garden and Six Degrees of Separation. In 1998 he wrote the book for the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which he won the Obie Award and originated the lead role. Mitchell also directed and starred in the film version of Hedwig, earning a Best Director Award from the Sundance Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Mitchell recently reclaimed the lead role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a run on Broadway.

Brian d’Arcy James will vie for the Best Actor for a Leading Role in a Musical for Something Rotten!, a new musical about a pair of brothers in 1590s England stepping out of the shadow of “the Bard” by creating the world’s first musical. James is an Obie Award- and Drama Desk Award-winning actor. He has been nominated twice before for a Tony Award, recognized in 2002 for his featured role in the musical Sweet Smell of Success and in 2009 for his lead role in Shrek the Musical. For his role in Something Rotten!, James has also been nominated for 2015 Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League Distinguished Performance awards. Other roles of note include King George III in Hamilton at New York’s The Public Theater and Banquo in the 2013-14 Lincoln Center Theater production of Macbeth. James is also a television actor, best known for his role in NBC’s music theatre show Smash, and a film actor with upcoming roles in Spotlight with Michael Keaton and Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, directed by fellow School of Communication alumnus Jason Moore (C93).