Four Yalies walked away from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night with Tony Awards recognizing their excellence in live Broadway theater.
Itamar Moses ’99 won Best Book of a Musical with his script for “The Band’s Visit,” whose lead actor, Tony Shalhoub DRA ’80, also secured a Tony. Yet another former Yale student working on “The Band’s Visit” — Kai Harada — took home the award for Best Sound Design of a Musical. And Catherine Zuber DRA ’84 won for Best Costume Design of a Musical for “My Fair Lady.”
In his acceptance speech, Moses thanked his colleagues, including Shalhoub, who he said contributed to the “amazing cast.”
Shalhoub, who won for his portrayal of Tewfiq, the leader of an Egyptian band, used his minute in the spotlight to speak about his father’s arrival at Ellis Island from Lebanon nearly a century ago. “Alright listen, it’s late and I know you are all tired, so I am going to make this as long as I possibly can,” he started with a smile.
He went on to tell the story of his father’s arrival in America at the age of eight, dedicating the night’s celebration to “all those in his family who journeyed before him and with him and after him.”
“May we their descendants never lose sight of what they taught us,” he concluded.
Kai Harada, who won for his sound design on “The Band’s Visit,” initially enrolled in Yale College, but left before graduation to pursue a career in theatrical sound design. “The Band’s Visit” — which chronicles the adventures of a band of Egyptian musicians — won more Tony awards than any other show on Sunday night.
Zuber, who won her seventh Tony on Sunday, told Broadway World in an interview that the award represents “recognition of the wonderful collaboration” that went into the production .
She added that her existing six Tony Awards live “in my studio next to my basketball trophies.”
Dean of the School of Drama James Bundy said “it was a thrill” to see Shalhoub and the other Yale-affiliated winners take home Tonys. And he noted that other School of Drama graduates have also enjoyed success recently, including Martyna Majok DRA ’12, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play “The Cost of Living.”
In addition to the solo winners, recent Yale College graduate Conor Bagley ’16 was recognized for his work as one of 39 producers of the one-act musical “Once on This Island,” which won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical category.
“Part of me still can’t believe we won on Sunday,” Bagley said. “But I think this immersive show about a young woman fighting for love and respect really struck a chord with people, as it did me. And I’m excited at the prospect of sharing this beautifully told story with more audiences.”
Allison Park | firstname.lastname@example.org