2 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 7, 2004
Music school alums nominated, win Tony Awards .
By Cecilly Tan
Daily Staff Reporter
The Tony Awards are commonly
thought of as a prestigious award by
much of the theater community.
This year, six University alumni
were nominated and three went
home with awards.
Two of the three alums won
awards with the hit Broadway musi-
cal comedy "Avenue Q" - Jeffery
Seller ('86) received an award for
producing the play, and Jeff Marx
('92) won Best Original score. Sell-
er has had four nominations and has
won three awards.
Jack O' Brien ('61) won Best
Direction of a Play for "Henry IV."
O' Brien has had seven nominations
and won a 2003 Tony Award for
Best Direction in "Hairspray."
First-time nominee and winner
Marx received his Bachelor of Fine
Arts degree in Musical Theater
from the University.
Marx went to law school after
obtaining his BFA with the notion
of becoming an entertainment
lawyer. But he took a writing work-
shop, met his collaborator and
eventually produced "Avenue Q"
At 33, Marx said the experience
of being nominated is "wild," given
that he andvhis collaborator, Robert
Lopez, are very young.
Marx described the musical as
one "about young people for young
people that attracted newer and
He also said that the musical has
not lost money since its opening.
"It's unbelievable ... to be com-
peting with Stephen Schwartz and
Tony Kushner," Marx said of his
He added that being involved in
theater has given him a new per-
spective to celebrities.
"People who end up doing things
they want to do don't have special
abilities. They are normal people
who focus on their work, people
who hang in there, people who keep
going when other people have given
up," he said.
Margo Martindale, who received
a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974
before the BFA program was estab-
lished, has been an actress for 37
She echoed Marx's view of hard-
ship in the theater.
"It has been hard, being poor in
New York for many years, but it is
now very, very rewarding," she said.
Martindale was nominated for
Best Performance by a Featured
Actress in a Play for her role in
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
The Tony Awards are given out
by the American Theatre Wing and
the League of American Theatres
The Tony Awards were named for
Antoinette Perry, the founder of the
American Theatre Wing. The organ-
ization was established in 1917 and
is the longest-running theater serv-
"People who end up doing things they want to
do don't have special abilities. They are
normal people who focus on their work,
people who hang in there, people who keep
going when other people have given up.'
University alum ('92) and first-time winner of Best Original Score
Other nominees include: Hunter
Foster ('92) for Best Performance
by a Leading Actor in a Musical for
his role in "Little Shop of Horrors"
and Matthew Rego ('92) for his
production of "Wicked."
Professor Brent Wagner, the chair
of the Musical Theater department
within the School of Music, said
that the department is excited and
proud of its past students' achieve-
ments and dedication to the theater.
He also said this year is particu-
larly exciting because many genera-
tions of alumni are involved.
"It doesn't matter whether or not
they win. Itsis an honor for them to
make it this far," Wagner said.
Wagner has worked with Foster
and Tony Award veteran Seller in
workshops for the department since
Wagner also said that these stu-
dents' accomplishments would
attract talent to the department's
unique program. Established in
1984, the program offers a BFA in
The program has turned out 250
students since it started in 1984.
"Our graduates have done great
work around the world," Wagner said.
Presentatations of the first Tony
Awards were made in 1947 and for
the first two years, no official stat-
ue or award was given out. Instead,
substitutions included a scroll, a
cigarette lighter and a money clip.
In 1949, Herman Rosse created a
medallion with the masks of come-
dy and tragedy on one side and the I
profile of Perry on the other.
In 1967, the medallion was
mounted on a base, and to this day,
it continues as the official Tony
Award for winners.
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A review (Disaster relief needed, 6/01/04) should have said that Dennis
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