Although Northwestern alumni’s share of the 2016 Tony Nominations was minimal (where is Brian d’Arcy James when you need him?), both of the Lifetime Achievement Awards will go to Northwestern alumni this year, which is pretty awesome for the ‘Cats.
Sheldon Harnick (Bienen ‘49) and Marshall W. Mason (School of Speech ‘61) will receive Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. In addition, the Regional Tony Award will go to the theater company of artistic director Mark Hoebee (School of Speech ‘82): Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. The 70th Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, June 12th on CBS, but since these ones are already decided (they’re what the Tonys calls “non-competitive”...but like, that’s not really true), we wanted to fill you in on Northwestern's legacy.
Harnick attended Bienen after serving three years in World War II, earning a bachelor’s degree in music. He then moved to New York, where his penned songs, comedy sketches and parody lyrics quickly made him notable. The impact of Harnick’s legacy is still seen on Broadway stages today. Two of the musicals competing for Best Revival of a Musical this year – The Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me – were written by Harnick.
Harnick won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1960 for his work on Fiorello!, a musical about New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia. He also won two Tonies for his work on Fiddler on the Roof.
Marshall W. Mason
Mason made his directorial debut at Northwestern at age 19 with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Since earning a bachelor’s degree in 1961 in theatre, he has been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Director of a Play five times. He is also known for his collaboration with playwright Lanford Wilson, as he has directed more than 60 productions of Wilson’s plays, the longest collaboration in theatre history.
In 2014, he was inducted to the Theatre Hall of Fame.
Hoebee studied dance at Northwestern, but eventually found himself choreographing and then directing in Chicago. After graduating, Hoebee appeared on Broadway and in national touring productions. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. In 2000, he started at Paper Mill Playhouse, where he has been ever since.