Carnegie Mellon University
May 02, 2017

Carnegie Mellon Drama Alumni Nominated for 2017 Tony Awards

Third annual Education Award winner to be recognized during CBS broadcast

By Abby Simmons

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047

Four Carnegie Mellon University alumni garnered Tony Award nominations this morning during a live segment on “CBS This Morning” and a webcast on Denée Benton, Christian Borle and Josh Groban were nominated for their leading roles in Broadway musicals, and Kevin Emrick was nominated as a producer for the Pulitzer prize-winning play "Sweat." The Tony Awards, hosted by actor and Tony Award-winner Kevin Spacey, will be broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 11, from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Carnegie Mellon will present the third annual "Excellence in Theatre Education Award" at the Tonys. The award is the first, national honor to recognize K-12 theatre educators.

"We are tremendously proud of our Carnegie Mellon University alumni nominees who, through their hard work and success, serve as role models for students everywhere," said CMU President Subra Suresh. "We also are proud to partner with the Tony Awards to recognize other important role models — our nation's teachers — who provide arts education to young people. Through our Excellence in Theatre Education Award, we honor their hard work and dedication."

2017 Tony Award Nominees

The following CMU alumni, presented in alphabetical order, have been nominated for a Tony Award this year.

Image of Denee Benton

Denée Benton

"Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Denée Benton got her big break in the middle of her senior year while studying music theater at Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama when she was cast as Nabulungi in the West End and U.S. national tour of "The Book of Mormon." She graduated in 2014 and later went on to play Ruby Carter in the second season of the Lifetime series, "UnREAL." After, Benton was cast in the title role of Natasha, in "Natasha, Pierre and The Comet of 1812" at the American Repertory Theatre in Boston, Mass. She and the show transferred to Broadway in fall 2016, where she made her debut alongside fellow CMU alumnus Josh Groban.

Image of Christian Borle

Christian Borle


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

A Pittsburgh native, Christian Borle attended Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama as a music theater major. He graduated in 1995. He is a two-time Tony Award winner for his work in "Something Rotten!" and "Peter and the Starcatcher" and was nominated for his performance in "Legally Blonde, THE MUSICAL." Additional Broadway credits include "Mary Poppins," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Spamalot," "Footloose," "Amour" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." On screen, Borle has appeared on NBC's "Smash," "Peter Pan Live!" and "The Sound of Music Live!," as well as Showtime's "Masters of Sex."

Image of Kevin Emrick

Kevin Emrick


Best Play as producer

Kevin Emrick is the creative director for Stuart Thompson Productions. A 2007 graduate of Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama, Emrick has previously worked at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Pittburgh Cultural Trust, the Chautauqua Theatre Company and Warner Bros. Television.  Emrick is jointly nominated with Stuart Thompson, Louise L. Gund, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Jon B. Platt, Roy Furman, Len Blavatnik, Shelly Mitchell, Scott Rudin, Ted Snowdon, True Love Productions, John Gore, Deborah Taylor/Richard Winkler and The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director)

Image of Josh Groban

Josh Groban

"Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812"

Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

A Los Angeles native, Groban is an internationally renowned singer, songwriter and actor. Having sold more than 30 million albums and DVDs worldwide, Groban is the only artist who has had two albums land on Billboard's list of 20 best sellers of the last 10 years. On top of his music career, Groban has made acting appearances on "Glee," "The Simpsons," "The Office," "CSI: NY," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "The Crazy Ones," and in the feature films "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "Coffee Town" and "Muppets Most Wanted." He attended Carnegie Mellon 1999-2000. He made his Broadway debut as Comet's Pierre alongside fellow CMU alum Denée Benton this fall.

2017 Education Award Will Be Presented Live During Tony Awards on CBS

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award continues to gain significant attention, generating hundreds of nominations from across the country again this year. This annual honor recognizes theatre educators in the U.S. who demonstrate monumental impact on the lives of students and who embody the highest standards of the profession. A panel of judges comprising representatives of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry recently selected the finalists and winner. CMU School of Drama Head Peter Cooke and Casey Cott, a 2016 CMU graduate and current star of the CW’s “Riverdale,” were two members of the judging panel.

A single winner will be selected to receive the Excellence in Theatre Education Award and recognized at the 71st Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11.

CMU is the first, exclusive higher education partner of the Tony Awards. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama is the oldest drama degree-granting program in the United States and celebrated its centennial in 2014. Recognized as an international leader in the arts and technology, CMU’s School of Drama consistently ranks as one of the world’s best and has produced hundreds of Tony nominees. Its alumni have won 43 awards to date.