5 Tony Award-Winning Productions Produced at East West Players

In honor of the upcoming Tony Awards this Sunday, here are 5 Tony Award-winning plays that were produced at East West Players.

5.  A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM, BOOK BY HUGH WHEELER

Melody Butiu and Jon Jon Briones in "A Little Night Music" (2012). Photo by Michael Lamont.

Melody Butiu and Jon Jon Briones in “A Little Night Music” (2012). Photo by Michael Lamont.

A Little Night Music won 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1973, and was nominated for 4 more Tony Awards in 2010 during its revival run on Broadway.

A Little Night Music explores the complexities of love and heartache as the summer night “smiles on the young, the fools and the old.” Since its Broadway debut in 1973, the musical has enjoyed numerous accolades and revivals, and features Stephen Sondheim’s most well-known song, “Send in the Clowns.”

This classic musical premiered at East West Players in 2012 and featured Melody Butiu as “Desiree Armfeldt” and Jon Jon Briones as “Frederik Egerman.” In 2015, Butiu made her Broadway debut in Doctor Zhivago and Briones earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical at the 2015 Olivier Awards for his role as The Engineer in the West End revival of Miss Saigon.

 

4. PIPPIN BY STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

William Jay, Ethan Le Phong, and Maegan McConnell in "Pippin" (2008). Photo by Michael Lamont.

William Jay, Ethan Le Phong, and Maegan McConnell in “Pippin” (2008). Photo by Michael Lamont.

Pippin earned 5 wins out of 11 nominations in 1973 for its original Broadway production, then received 4 more Tony Awards out of 10 nominations for its 2013 Broadway revival.

Pippin is the story of a young man who braves the challenges found in the worlds of war, pleasure, politics, art, religion and love as he searches for his true calling.

The Tony Award winning musical Pippin received a revitalizing twist with theatre anime visuals, hip-hop dance influence and contemporary music arrangements live on stage at East West Players in 2008.

It is also remains the highest grossing production in East West Players’ 50 year history.

 

3. EQUUS BY PETER SCHAFFER

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George Takei and Trieu Tran in “Equus” (2005). Photo by Michael Lamont.

Equus won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1975.

Equus is an electrifying journey into the mind of a 17-year old boy who senselessly and systematically blinds horses with a steel spike. As a psychiatrist explores the young boy’s tortured psyche, the play becomes a shattering confrontation between the passionate spirit of the life force itself and the distortions forced on the spirit by “civilized” society.

East West Players produced this Tony Award-winning play in 2005 with cultural icon George Takei, who told The Associated Press that his onstage role as psychologist “Martin Dysart,” helped inspire him to publicly discuss his sexuality. His passion project Allegiance, a story set during the Japanese American Internment during WWII based on Takei’s personal experiences, will premiere on Broadway later this year with Lea Salonga and Telly Leung.

 

2. M. BUTTERFLY BY DAVID HENRY HWANG

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Arye Gross and Alec Mapa in “M. Butterfly” (2004). Photo by Michael Lamont.

M. Butterfly by playwright David Henry Hwang, and our theater’s namesake, won 3 Tony Awards out of 7 nominations in 1988 including Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, and Best Direction of a Play. Hwang is the first Asian-American author to win Best Play.

Drawn from real life events involving the strange tale of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year relationship with a Chinese opera star without (he contended) being aware that his “perfect woman” was really a man. Bored with his routine posting in Beijing, and awkward with women, diplomat Rene Gallimard is easy prey for the subtle, delicate charms of Song Liling, a Chinese opera star who personifies Gallimard’s fantasy vision of submissive, exotic oriental sexuality. He begins a 20-year affair with “her,” during which time he passes along diplomatic secrets, an act which brings on his downfall and imprisonment.

East West Players staged the Tony Award-winning production in 2004 featuring Alec Mapa as “Song Liling” and Arye Gross as “Rene Gallimard.”

 

1. THE WHO’S TOMMY BY PETE TOWNSHEND AND DES MCANUFF

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Cliffton Walker, Araceli Prasarttongosoth, and Deedee Magno Hall in “The Who’s Tommy” (2015). Photo by Michael Lamont.

The Who’s Tommy received 10 nominations and won 5 Tony Awards in 1993.

Deprived of sight, hearing and speech by the shock of what he had witnessed as a child, young Tommy Walker seems lost to life – until he reveals an uncanny talent for the game of pinball. When his lost senses are suddenly restored, Tommy is hailed as a living miracle.

The Who’s Tommy features Broadway veterans Deedee Magno Hall, who played “Kim” in Miss Saigon and recently from If/Then with Idina Mendzel, and onstage and in real life husband Cliffton Hall, who played “Chris” in Miss Saigon on Broadway and the International tour. The critically acclaimed rock musical is currently playing at East West Players through Sunday, June 21, 2015.