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Brooklyn College faculty, alumni win honors at the Tonys

September 29, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Brooklyn College enjoyed a memorable night at the 2021 Tony Awards as a faculty member and other members of the extended Brooklyn College family were honored at the ceremony on Sept. 26.

Associate Professor for Performance Justin Townsend won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical for his work on Moulin Rouge! The celebrated musical walked away with a total of 10 Tony Awards, including the coveted Tony Award for Best Musical.

Brooklyn College alumnus Woodie King Jr. ’99, who graduated with his M.F.A in theater with a concentration in directing, received an honorary Tony Award for excellence in theater.

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Another Brooklyn College graduate, scenic lighting designer Jiyoun Chang ’01 M.F.A. was nominated for Best Lighting for Play for Slave Play. Chang graduated with an M.F.A in Design from Brooklyn College.

“We are so fortunate to have such incredible artistic talent contributing to our social conscious among our faculty, students, and alumni who have made Brooklyn College’s Theater Department one of the best in New York City,” said Maria Conelli, the dean of the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts. “These Tony Awards and nominations are a testament to that talent, and on behalf of Brooklyn College, I offer my heartfelt congratulations.”

Townsend was also nominated for a Tony for his lighting work on the rock musical Jagged Little Pill. Townsend, who has been teaching classes including lighting design, collaboration, stagecraft and concepts in design at Brooklyn College since 2017, is no stranger to Broadway.

Brooklyn College alumnus Woodie King Jr. received an honorary Tony for excellence in theater. Photo courtesy of New Federal Theatre

His lighting designs include American Psycho (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Henry Hewes Award), The Humans (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award), Bloody Andrew Jackson (Hewes Nomination, Outer Critics Circle Nomination), The Nap, Little Foxes, Present Laughter, Casa Valentina, A Night with Janis Joplin (NAACP Theatre Award), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and The Other Place.

King Jr. is known as a significant figure in the history of Black theater, founding the New Federal Theatre and bringing minority playwrights, actors, and directors to national attention with projects both on and off-Broadway. He was honored by the Brooklyn College Theater Department for his contributions to the performing arts at the department’s annual awards ceremony on May 18 at the George Gershwin Theater.

King Jr.’s Tony Award citation said: “The mission of New Federal Theatre, founded by Woodie King Jr. in 1970, is to integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences—plays that evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re–creations of ourselves.”

In addition to the faculty and alumni recognition, the acclaimed director and producer Stephen Daldry, who is a member of the Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema’s Advisory Council, was also named Best Director after The Inheritance won Best New Play.

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