Lookingglass Theatre wins 2011 Regional Tony Award
by Chris Jones
Lookingglass Theatre, the visually rich, ensemble-based theater founded in 1988 by a group of young graduates of Northwestern University, became the fifth Chicago theater to win the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre Tuesday morning, following in the footsteps of the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and Chicago Shakespeare Theaters.
Representatives of Lookingglass, which performs inside the historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., will accept the statuette at the Tony Awards in New York in June.
"I cannot believe it," said Rachel Kraft, the executive director. "I didn't think Chicago would be so lucky. We were caught off-guard and we are thoroughly unprepared."
The 2011 Regional Theatre Tony was announced Tuesday morning, along with the Tony nominations for Broadway shows. No city other than Chicago has five theaters with Regional Tony Awards.
Meanwhile, Steppenwolf ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro was nominated for her direction for the Broadway play, "The Mother f**ker With the Hat." And "The Book of Mormon" scored 14 Tony nominations.
Nominated new musicals this year are "Sister Act," "The Scottsboro Boys," "The Book of Mormon" and "Catch Me If You Can."
Members of the storied Lookingglass ensemble include Mary Zimmerman, who has created several of its best known productions, including "The Arabian Nights" and "Metamorphoses," a piece that was widely credited with bringing balm to New York in the weeks following Sept. 11. The group also includes the actor-director David Schwimmer, whose work on the hit TV show "Friends" catapulted him to fame and fortune, and yet who has remained intensely committed to this theater company he started with his friends.
Writers in the ensemble include Joy Gregory (her TV work includes "Joan of Arcadia") and Laura Eason, the author of the current Steppenwolf production of "Sex with Strangers." Directors include Heidi Stillman. Actors include Phil Smith and Joey Slotnick, another well-known Lookingglass actor with a film and TV career.
Both the current artistic director, Andy White, and his predecessor, David Catlin, are also ensemble members with long histories of commitment to Lookingglass. Unlike most regional companies, which are led artistically by one individual, Lookingglass has traditionally rotated its artistic leadership among its ensemble.
In the annuls of Chicago theater, Lookingglass was perhaps the first resident company to develop the kind of visual and movement-oriented sensibility and speciality that many did not associate with the early, in-your-face years of Chicago theater.Click here to read the full article.