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Two Northwestern Faculty Win 2008 Tony Awards

Anna Shapiro and Todd Rosenthal were each presented with a Tony Award for their work on the drama "August: Osage County."

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June 16, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University faculty members Anna Shapiro and Todd Rosenthal were each presented with a Tony Award last night (June 15) for their work on the drama "August: Osage County" by Tracy Letts.

On Thursday, June 19, the School of Communication will formally honor its 2008 winners.

Shapiro won for Best Direction of a Play, and Rosenthal won for Best Scenic Design of a Play. In addition, Northwestern School of Communication alumna Barbara Gaines received the 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award as artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

It was a particularly big win for "August: Osage County," which also earned playwright Letts a Tony for Best Play. Altogether, August, a play about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family, earned five 2008 Tonys.

Sunday's Tony announcements and ceremony in New York "also marked a significant achievement for Northwestern," said Barbara O'Keefe, dean of the School of Communication.

Alumna Martha Lavey is artistic director of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, which premiered "August: Osage County." And 2008 Tony Award-winning playwright Letts has taught in the School of Communication.

"This is hardly the first time the School of Communication and its theatre and performance studies departments have been associated with the Tony Awards or other prestigious awards in the performing arts," O'Keefe added.

In 2002, performance studies professor and alumna Mary Zimmerman -- a 1998 MacArthur "genius" award winner -- won a Tony for Best Direction of a Play for "Metamorphoses," a play that premiered at Northwestern. Associate Professor Daniel Ostling was Tony-nominated for Best Scenic Design for the same play.

That year three School of Communication alumni also were honored with Tony nominations -- Gregg Edelman ("Into the Woods") and Brian D'Arcy James ("Sweet Smell of Success") for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and Spencer Kayden for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical ("Urinetown").

Shapiro and Rosenthal as well as Ana Kuzmanic -- a Northwestern assistant professor of theatre and alumna who collaborated on "August's" costume design -- are expected to attend the School of Communication's June 19 Tony Award Winners Salute. The event is open to School of Communication faculty, staff, seniors and their parents.