CalArtians Nominated for 2023 Tony Awards

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On Tuesday, May 2, the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing announced the nominees for the 76th Tony Awards, with a CalArts alum and former faculty among the honorees.

Corey Hawkins (Theater 07) is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his portrayal of Lincoln in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “superbly acted” Broadway revival stars Hawkins and fellow nominee Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a contemporary Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth—but as adult brothers. The dark comedy by Parks, a 1996 Herb Alpert Award in Arts recipient and former School of Theater faculty, follows the siblings as they contemplate a return to their former card hustle to step away from their sole source of income (a whiteface Abraham Lincoln impersonator at the arcade). All the while, the brothers grapple with their fraught upbringing, poverty, and racism. The recognition marks Hawkins’ second Tony Award nomination, the first for his 2017 performance as Paul Poitier in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation.

Hawkins discussed how present-day audiences may perceive the Pulitzer Prize-winning work differently from those of its 2001 premiere in a November 2022 interview with The New York Times:

There have been shifts in the conversations around men’s roles and responsibilities, but how I, as an artist, see those things might be different than how my character, Link, sees them. I have to be true to the intentions of what Suzan-Lori Parks wrote, but I do see the play as an ode or love letter to Black men. We can be raw, right, wrong, joyous, funny, heartbreaking and unapologetically Black onstage.

Hawkins is an actor, producer, and singer known for his work in AMC’s The Walking Dead, In the Heights (2021), and Straight Outta Compton (2015). His portrayal of Dr. Dre in the latter earned a Hollywood Film Award for Breakthrough Ensemble and a Black Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble.

In the Best Lighting Design of a Musical category, former School of Theater faculty and Head of Lighting Lap Chi Chu has been nominated for his work on Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot. Chu discussed his lighting approach to the play in a blog post for UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television

We threw out some early design ideas that were very illustrative but we’re going to be a little more stylized, a little more modern. We’re going to have video projections. To be over-simplistic, because the story is about idealism, it needs to be pretty, and it will give us something to lose when idealism is gone at the end of the story. It sounds inadequate to just say, “Oh it’s going to look pretty,” but it is integral to what Camelot needs to represent.

The Los Angeles- and New York-based lighting designer is the 2018 recipient of the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design, as well as a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Angstrom Award for Career Achievement in Lighting Design, an Ovation award, and more.

The 76th Tony Awards will be held on June 11, 2023 at the historic United Palace in New York City. The ceremony will be broadcast on CBS from 5-8 pm PT, and stream live and on demand on Paramount +.

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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