A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus Basking in Tony Win

The Names Blog
June 11, 2012

The day after “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical (and its star Audra McDonald won for Best Actress), Diane Paulus was tired but ecstatic. The artistic director of the Cambridge-based American Repertory Theater, which produced the show, said her evening ended in the wee hours of Monday morning. “I went to the official party at the Plaza and to the ‘Porgy’ and ‘Best Man’ parties at the Redeye Grill,” she told us. “I wanted to go to the ‘Once’ party, but by 3 a.m., I really needed to lie down.” “Once,” which cleaned up Sunday night, winning eight Tonys, was developed at the A.R.T. by director John Tiffany before it headed to New York. “John was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute a year ago and he was hanging out with us at the A.R.T.,” said Paulus. “We said, ‘What do you want to do while you’re here in Cambridge, and he brought ‘Once’ to the A.R.T.” The play, which was workshopped at Oberon for six weeks, won awards for Best Direction of a Musical (Tiffany), Best Actor in a Musical (Steve Kazee), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Bob Crowley), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Clive Goodwin), Best Book of a Musical (Enda Walsh), Best Orchestration of a Musical (Martin Lowe), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Natasha Katz), and Best Musical. Paulus said it was thrilling to have the A.R.T. “noted and mentioned” so many times during the Sunday’s show. “It was an exciting moment for the theater we’re making in Boston,” she said. (At one point during the CBS broadcast, Paulus could be seen blowing a kiss to her children, who were watching at her brother’s house.) The success of “Porgy and Bess” is especially gratifying considering that some people, notably composer Stephen Sondheim, were skeptical of the A.R.T.’s reinterpretation. (In a letter to The New York Times last August, before the show went to Broadway, Sondheim used words like “arrogant” to describe the work.) So, did he ever see the show? “To my knowledge, he has not seen it,” Paulus said Monday. “Maybe he came incognito, but I don’t think so. We’d love him to come and see it. It’s been a long, emotional journey for all of us.”

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