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Schools of the Stars: Where the 74th Annual Tony Award Winners Went to College

“We would not be here if it wasn’t for the arts educators in our lives,” said Josh Groban to his Carnegie Mellon University classmate Leslie Odom, Jr. in a bit from CBS’ Broadway’s Back! concert, the second half of the 74th Annual Tony Awards broadcast. The two sang “Beautiful City” from Godspell, dedicating it to teachers who have had to “work so hard this year to keep students inspired.”

In our yearly Schools of the Stars feature, Playbill takes a look at the colleges, universities, and arts conservatories where the Tony winners honed their crafts.

READ: Highlights From the Acceptance Speeches at the 74th Annual Tony Awards

For more theatre education news and to learn how you can follow in these artists footsteps, click here.

Best Play
Matthew Lopez (The Inheritance): University of South Florida

Best Revival of a Play
Charles Fuller (A Soldier’s Play): Villanova University and La Salle University

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Andrew Burnap (The Inheritance): University of Rhode Island and Yale School of Drama

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Mary-Louise Parker (The Sound Inside): University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Aaron Tveit (Moulin Rouge!): Ithaca College

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Adrienne Warren (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical): Marymount Manhattan College

Best Book of a Musical
Diablo Cody (Jagged Little Pill): University of Iowa

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Christopher Nightingale (A Christmas Carol): Magdalene College, Cambridge

Best Choreography
Sonya Tayeh (Moulin Rouge!): Wayne State University

Best Orchestrations
Katie Kresek (Moulin Rouge!): Purchase College, The Mannes College of Music, and Columbia University
Charlie Rosen (Moulin Rouge!): Berklee College of Music
Matt Stine (Moulin Rouge!): University of Wisconsin
Justin Levine (Moulin Rouge!): New York University

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge!): Harvard College and Yale School of Drama

Best Scenic Design of a Play and Best Costume Design of a Play
Rob Howell (A Christmas Carol): Birmingham City University

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Catherine Zuber (Moulin Rouge!): Yale School of Drama

Best Sound Design of a Play
Simon Baker (A Christmas Carol): Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski (Moulin Rouge!): Carnegie Mellon University

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Hugh Vanstone (A Christmas Carol): Did not attend college.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Justin Townsend (Moulin Rouge!): University of Massachusetts and California Institute for the Arts

Best Direction of a Play
Stephen Daldry (The Inheritance): University of Sheffield and East 15 Acting School, University of Essex

Best Direction of a Musical
Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!): Yale University

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
David Alan Grier (A Soldier’s Play): University of Michigan and Yale School of Drama

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Lois Smith (The Inheritance): University of Washington and the Actors Studio

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill): The New School

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein (Moulin Rouge!): Queens College and University of California, San Diego (and High School of the Performing Arts)

Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: September 26

1898 Composer George Gershwin is born in New York. He writes Porgy and Bess, “Rhapsody in Blue,” Girl Crazy, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Of Thee I Sing, among many other shows and songs.

1911 William Brady’s Playhouse hosts the opening for Bought and Paid For, a new play by George Broadhurst about a wealthy man who eventually wins the love of his wife. During the show’s 431 performances, an actor in the show, Frank Craven, is elevated to stardom. Craven goes on to play the Stage Manager in the original 1938 Broadway production of Thornton Wilder‘s Our Town. Brooks Atkinson once commented that Craven was “[t]he best pipe and pants-pocket actor in the business.”

1933 The first major success of the Group Theatre, Men in White, opens at the Broadhurst Theatre. The show, written by Sidney Kingsley, is about a doctor who has to deal with decisions regarding love vs. duty. Issues include abortion and social reform—the theatre style for which the Group Theatre becomes known. Lee Strasberg directs a cast of what will become a group of very influential people in the theatre: Luther Adler, Clifford Odets, J. Edward Bromberg, and Ruth Nelson. Elia Kazan has only one line, “Hello, sweetheart.” It wins the 1934 Pulitzer Prize for drama and serves as the model for all the hospital dramas to come.

1957 “It all began tonight” at the Winter Garden Theatre as West Side Story opens. The Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents musical is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but has New York teenage gangs pitted against each other instead of Verona’s dueling families. It includes such classic songs as “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.” The show is choreographed and staged by Peter Gennaro and Jerome Robbins, who came up with the show’s original 1949 concept: “East Side Story.” The piece evolved, with new music, a new location, and a new ethnicity to become what it is tonight. Larry Kert, Carol Lawrence, and Chita Rivera star. A film version starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and George Chakiris (who was a member of the original London cast) is released in 1961.

1968 Robert Shaw‘s drama The Man in the Glass Booth opens, beginning a six-month run that earns it 1969 Tony Award nominations for Best Play, Best Direction (Harold Pinter), and Best Actor in a Play for Donald Pleasance, who plays a Nazi war criminal on trial.

1985 Lily Tomlin stars in Jane Wagner‘s solo play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, opening at the Plymouth Theatre for a 391 performance run. Tomlin’s performance earns her the 1986 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. 15 years later, Tomlin returns to Broadway in a revival of the play at the Booth Theatre.

1998 Matthew Bourne‘s newly choreographed theatrical version of the ballet Swan Lake, a hit both in London and Los Angeles, begins its run on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre. The dance/theatre show, with men dancing the swan roles usually assigned to women, is co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Katharine Doré. Bourne wins two Tony Awards for the show (for Director of a Musical and Choreographer of a Musical) despite the show’s ineligibility as a musical. “I am absolutely astonished,” says Bourne in his acceptance speech. “Best director of a musical that’s not even a musical.”

2013 Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Zachary Quinto are a family adrift in a sea of memory in a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams‘ acclaimed 1945 drama The Glass Menagerie, opening at the Booth Theatre. The critically acclaimed production is directed by John Tiffany.

2015 In Your Arms, a “dance-theatre musical” with a score by Ragtime and Seussical composer Stephen Flaherty, opens at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. The show is made up of ten vignettes written by Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, and Alfred Uhry.

2021 Fifteen months after the originally scheduled date, the 74th Annual Tony Awards are held at the Winter Garden Theatre, the ceremony’s first time back in a Broadway theatre since 1999. Audra McDonald hosts the awards, which stream on Paramount+—a Tony Awards first. Leslie Odom, Jr. hosts a concert celebrating Broadway’s return on CBS directly afterward. Reflecting a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, just 14 plays and four musicals are eligible for the night’s honors.

More of Today’s Birthdays: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965). Philip Bosco (1930-2018). Mary Beth Hurt (b. 1946). Ben Shenkman (b. 1968).

Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: September 25

1928 Chee-Chee, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart‘s musical about castration in ancient China, opens to searing reviews and goes on to close after just 31 performances, the team’s shortest run.

1935 Winterset, Maxwell Anderson‘s verse drama about a man determined to find justice after his father was wrongfully executed, opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre. Starring Richard Bennett, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Burgess Meredith, it runs 179 performances before heading on a national tour, and returns to Broadway for an additional 16 performances after winning the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play. In response to the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to Idiot’s Delight over Winterset, New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson writes “If Winterset does not mean more to the arts and the thought of the theatre today and tomorrow than Idiot’s Delight—in short, if it is not a better play now and always—then, as John Anderson said in his celebrated renunciation of the Critics Circle award, ‘I am Admiral Dewey.'”

1945 Despite reports of bad acting and poor production quality, the new Tennessee Williams and Donald Windham play, You Touched Me, opens at the Booth Theatre, beginning a tepidly-reviewed run of 109 performances. Williams and Windham wrote the play based on a D. H. Lawrence story for stars Montgomery Clift, Edmund Gwenn, and Marianne Stewart.

1961 Frank Fay, the vaudevillian and star of Harvey, dies at age 69. The actor, who at one time was married to Barbara Stanwyck, was confined to a hospital the previous week in Santa Monica, California and deemed legally incompetent.

1963 John Osborne‘s Luther, the story of the priest who launched the Protestant Reformation, opens on Broadway, en route to a 211-performance run and the 1964 Tony Award as Best Play.

1963 Sammy Davis, Jr. is reported in Variety as having turned down Laurence Olivier‘s offer to be Iago to his Othello. Davis feels he is just not ready for the dramatic demands of the role.

1979 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are the princes of Broadway as their new musical, Evita, opens at the Broadway Theatre. The very successful musical continues to run for 1,567 performances. Patti LuPone stars as Eva Peron, with Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara, the quasi-narrator of the musical. Clive Barnes of the New York Post reports that “Evita is a stunning, exhilarating theatrical experience, especially if you don’t think about it too much.”

1997 Riverdance, the showcase of Irish dance and music that played sold-out engagements in Dublin and London in 1995, comes to New York for a third run at Radio City Music Hall. The show, which had two runs in 1996, returns to the Manhattan venue once more in 1998 before finally restaging itself for an official Broadway run March 16, 2000 to August 26, 2001.

2003 By a macabre coincidence, Edward Said, the Palestinian-born Columbia University professor who was the likely model for a character in the play Omnium Gatherum, dies, the same day the Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros drama opens Off-Broadway. Said was 67, and suffered from leukemia.

2008 Harry Potter film star Daniel Radcliffe makes his Broadway debut opposite Tony and Olivier Award winner Richard Griffiths in a revival of Equus. Peter Shaffer‘s Tony-winning drama tells the story of a psychiatrist (Griffiths) who becomes absorbed in the strange case of a young man (Radcliffe) who blinds a stable of horses.

2011 Perfect Crime, Warren Manzi’s long-running thriller that opened in 1987, celebrates its 10,000th performance Off-Broadway. The cast includes original cast member Catherine Russell, who has been with the show for 24 years, securing herself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

2018 The world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet opens on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Janet McTeer stars as trailblazing 19th-century French actor Sarah Bernhardt, who famously took on the title role in Hamlet in 1899.

2018 Merle Debuskey, one of the most prominent press agents ever to ply his trade on Broadway, and Joe Papp‘s right-hand man during the New York Shakespeare Festival‘s first decades, dies at age 95. He represented more than 500 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows over the course of his career, and was president of the press agents’ union ATPAM for 25 years.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Charles B. Cochran (1872-1951). Harriet Hoctor (1905-1977). Robert Wright (1914-2005). Mark Hamill (b. 1951). Christopher Reeve (1952-2004). Jayne Houdyshell (b. 1954). Michael McGrath (b. 1957). Tate Donovan (b. 1963). Catherine Zeta-Jones (b. 1969).