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Meadows Alums Earn 2017 Tony Awards

Michael Aronov Wins Best Actor in a Featured Role for "Oslo" and Andy Blankenbuehler Wins Best Choreographer for "Bandstand"

Two Meadows alumni won 2017 Tony Awards at the ceremony held June 11 in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and two other alums are featured in winning and nominated musicals. In addition, Dallas Theater Center (DTC) won the Tony for Best Regional Theatre; Meadows has a long-standing partnership with DTC, which includes alumni and faculty in its resident acting company.

Michael Aronov, who earned a B.F.A. in theatre at Meadows in 1998, won his first Tony Award as Best Actor in a Featured Role for Oslo. The play, about the secret negotiations in the early 1990s leading to the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was also named Best Play. Aronov won for his performance as Israeli cabinet member Uri Savir, director-general of the foreign ministry. Oslo is Aronov’s second Broadway show, following his appearance in 2012’s Golden Boy. For this year’s Tony, Aronov was competing against veteran performers including Danny DeVito (for The Price), Nathan Lane (for The Front Page), Richard Thomas (for The Little Foxes) and John Douglas Thompson (for Jitney).

“Talent, practice and persistence pay off,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Michael Connolly, who taught Aronov while he was a student. “No actor I know has worked with greater focus and zeal than Michael, and no actor I know deserves this recognition more.”

Andy Blankenbuehler, who attended SMU in 1989 before launching a professional career, was named Best Choreographer for the musical Bandstand, the story of a group of WWII veterans who form a band to compete in a national radio contest in New York City seeking America’s next swing band sensation. The Broadway veteran has been nominated five times for the Tony in choreography, winning in 2016 for Hamilton and in 2008 for In the Heights. His numerous other credits include the Broadway revivals of Annie and Cats and the shows 9 to 5 and Bring It On: The Musical, among others.

The Broadway revival of Hello Dolly!, which features theatre alum Kevin Ligon (B.F.A. ’84) in a principal role as the maître d’ Rudolph, earned this year’s Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. Ligon has performed in numerous Broadway musicals, among them Kiss Me Kate, Phantom of the Opera and The Producers. In addition, dance alumnus Travis Waldschmidt (B.F.A. ’07) is featured in the role of Jeff in the musical Groundhog Day, which earned seven nominations; Waldschmidt is a veteran of Matilda and Wicked.

The Regional Theatre Tony Award is presented each year to honor a non-profit professional regional theatre company in the United States that has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally. The Dallas Theater Center, this year’s winner, has a long-standing relationship with the Meadows School. Every year, an M.F.A. graduate is accepted for a two-year appointment as a member of DTC’s Brierley Resident Acting Company. Tiana Kaye Johnson is the current young alum holding the appointment, through spring 2018. The acting company also includes Meadows alumnus Adam “Ace” Anderson and theatre professor Michael Connolly. Meadows also collaborated with DTC to present the inaugural Public Works Dallas production of The Tempest in March 2017, featuring 200 community members performing alongside five professional DTC actors, a result of the 2015 Meadows Prize. Next year, Meadows’ Division of Theatre will collaborate with DTC to present the hit London play Frankenstein as part of both the DTC and Meadows mainstage seasons.

For more information about the 2017 Tony Awards, visit tonyawards.com.

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