Carnegie Mellon University
June 09, 2019

Carnegie Mellon Alumni Bring Home 50th Tony Award

By Jason Maderer

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
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Julie Mattera
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For the 10th time in the last 11 years, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate has won a Tony Award. On Sunday, June 9, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Jamie deRoy earned a Tony for Best Play for "The Ferryman." It is the 50th Tony for Carnegie Mellon alumni in the 73-year history of the ceremony, which honors the best on Broadway.

Two CMU alumni earned Tony Honors, another (Jamie deRoy) won a Tony for Best Play and CMU and the Tonys recognized high school teacher Madeline Michel with the 5th annual Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

The night also included special honors for two other CMU graduates, Judith Light and Michael McElroy, as well as the presentation of the fifth annual Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

"Carnegie Mellon congratulates Jamie, Judith, Michael and all of our talented nominees," said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. "Tonight's prestigious recognition demonstrates our university's continuing legacy of producing artists who are shaping modern culture. The arts and theater education have always been integral to Carnegie Mellon's DNA and remain a critical aspect of what makes CMU unique."

One of Broadway's most prolific producers, deRoy has now won seven Tonys. The 1967 CMU graduate has worked on more than 50 Broadway and 40 Off-Broadway productions, and she is the celebrated host and producer of the critically acclaimed variety show, "Jamie deRoy & friends."

Light, a 1970 CMU graduate, received this year's Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her advocacy to end HIV/AIDS and her support for the LGBTQ+ community. The award is presented annually to a member of the theater community who has made a substantial contribution to humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.

Light said supporting the HIV/AIDs and the LGBTQ+ communities has been a privilege.

Judith Light accepts the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award. Getty Images

"It is here, in this theater community, that I have been inspired to do this work. It was the height of the AIDs pandemic in the early 80s, and suddenly people in our theater family were dying," Light said. "However, even as they suffered the ravages of the disease, they came out and demonstrated courage, the likes of which I had never seen before.

"To those of you who are our future generations, please remember you are our legacy. And that there is nothing to get in life," Light said. "Only what you give."

McElroy, a 1990 CMU graduate, was awarded a Tony Honor for Excellence for founding Broadway Inspirational Voices, a professional choir of Broadway artists united to change lives through music and service.

During the ceremony, Carnegie Mellon and the Tony Awards again partnered to recognize a K-12 drama teacher on stage. Madeline Michel, a theater director from Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Va., received the fifth annual Excellence in Theatre Education Award. She was recognized during the live telecast by Billy Porter, a 1991 CMU alumnus and star of FX's "Pose."

Billy Porter
Billy Porter walks the red carpet in a dress made from theater curtains. Getty Images

Michel said she was proud to share the award with her students.

"This award is for all of the students who have found their voice and who speak for themselves, their families and their community through theater and playwrighting," Michel said. "I thank you all for allowing me to accompany you on this journey — a journey that I invite everyone to follow on Instagram at @MonticelloDrama19."

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award was co-founded in 2014 by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University to celebrate arts education and to recognize a theater educator who has demonstrated exemplary impact on the lives of students and embodies the highest standards of the profession. Carnegie Mellon and the Tony Awards currently are accepting submissions for next year's award at

Michel was chosen by a panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theatre industry. As part of the award, Michel receives $10,000 for Monticello High School's theater program. Her students will receive a visiting Master Class taught by CMU Drama professors. Two students chosen by Michel will be given scholarships to the university's acclaimed School of Drama Summer Pre-College Program in summer 2020.

In all, five CMU alumni garnered 11 Tony nominations this year. deRoy led the way with a total of six nominations in three categories. In addition to "The Ferryman," "Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus" also was nominated for Best Play. "The Waverly Gallery" was nominated for Best Revival of a Play. "Tootsie," "Ain't Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations" and "Beetlejuice" were nominated for Best Musical.

Costume designer Ann Roth, a 1953 alumna, earned two nominations for Best Costume Design of a Play for her work in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus."

Sound designer Peter Hylenski, a 1997 alumnus, earned two nominations for Best Sound Design of a Musical for "Beetlejuice" and "King Kong."

Lighting designers Peggy Eisenhauer, a 1983 alumna, and Jules Fisher, Class of 1960, were nominated for Best Lighting Design of a Play in "Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus."

This is the 11th consecutive year CMU alumni have been nominated for Tony Awards. The university's School of Drama consistently ranks as one of the world's best drama schools and is the first degree-granting drama program in the United States.

Madeline Michel accepts the Excellence in Theatre Education Award presented by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University during the Creative Arts Awards portion of the 2019 Tony Awards.

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