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Celebrating Women's History Month: Women in Theatre Through the Decades: 2000s-2010s

Today we're learning all about the accomplishments of women like Cynthia Erivo, Ali Stroker, Danai Gurira, Young Jean Lee and many more.

It is officially Women's History Month, and BroadwayWorld is celebrating and honoring the impact and accomplishments of women in theatre.

With Women in Theatre Through the Decades, we will be highlighting the vital role that women have played in theatre history, showcasing those who paved the way and who continue to make history today.

This week, we are highlighting the accomplishments of women in theatre throughout the 2000s-2010s.

2000s

Sutton Foster

Sutton Foster, now one of Broadway's biggest stars, skyrocketed to fame when she starred in Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway 2002. For her performance as Millie Dillmount, Foster won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance. Foster went on to receive her second Tony nomination for her role as Jo March in the 2005 Broadway production of Little Women. She was nominated for her third Tony Award for her performance as Janet Van De Graaff in the 2006 Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone. She went on to star in Young Frankenstein in 2007, and Shrek the Musical in 2008, for which she was nominated for her fourth Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.

The legendary, Tony-winning Kelli O'Hara (and seven-time Tony Award nominee) was nominated for her first Tony Award in 2005 for her role as Clara in the Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza. O'Hara has the distinction of being nominated for, or winning, a Tony Award for every subsequent role she has played on Broadway. After The Light in the Piazza, O'Hara went on to play Babe in the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, for which she was nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She was nominated for her third Tony Award for her performance as Nellie Forbush in the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific. She earned four more nominations and one win for her Broadway roles in the 2010s.

Kathleen Marshall is one of the most prominent directors and choreographers in the theatre world today. Her stage credits in the 2000s include Kiss Me, Kate, for which she was nominated for Best Choreography at the 2000 Tony Awards and Outstanding Choreography at the Drama Desk Awards; Follies, for which she was nominated for Outstanding Choreography at the 2001 Outer Critics Circle Awards; the West End production of Kiss Me, Kate, for which she was nominated for Best Theatre Choreographer at the 2002 Olivier Awards; Wonderful Town, for which she won Best Choreography at the 2004 Tony Awards, and Outstanding Choreography at the 2004 Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award; and The Pajama Game, for which she won Best Choreography at the 2006 Tony Awards, and Outstanding Choreography at the Drama Desk Awards and Outer Critics Circle Awards, plus a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.


Lynn Nottage

Celebrating Women's History Month: Women in Theatre Through the Decades: 2000s-2010s Playwright and screenwriter Lynn Nottage is the first -and currently the only- woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice, the first being in 2009 for her play Ruined (the second was in 2017 for Sweat). One of Nottage's best-known plays, Intimate Apparel, had its Off-Broadway premiere in 2004. The play received the 2004 AUDELCO Viv Award for Playwriting, and is now one of the most produced plays in the country. Ruined, in addition to the Pulitzer Prize, won the 2009 AUDELCO Viv Award for Dramatic Production of the Year. In 2009, Lynn Nottage spoke at the United Nations as part of the Exhibit CONGO/WOMEN Portraits of War: The Democratic Republic of Congo.


Suzan-Lori Parks

Playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and musician Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002 when she won the award for her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog. Her contributions to the worlds of theatre and film are expansive. Her stage plays in the 2000s include F*cking A, which was presented Off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in 2003; 365 Days/365 Plays in which Parks wrote 365 plays in 365 days, and more. She continues to make an impact with her work for shows including White Noise, which won the 2019 Obie Award for Playwriting, plus many more.

2010s

Marianne Elliot

Marianne Elliot is one of the best-known directors in the theatre industry today. In 2011 she won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for the Broadway production of War Horse, in 2015, she won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and in 2018 she won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play for Angels in America. Additionally, she won the Olivier for Best Director for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in 2013. Elliot's additional theatre credits during the 2010s include Company on Broadway (2020); Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Theatre and Piccadilly Theatre (2019); Company in the West End (2018); Angels in America at The National Theatre (2017); Husbands & Sons co-production between The National Theatre and the Royal Exchange with Anne-Marie Duff (2015); The Light Princess at The National Theatre (2013); Season's Greetings at The National Theatre (2010) and more.


Young Jean Lee

Celebrating Women's History Month: Women in Theatre Through the Decades: 2000s-2010s Young Jean Lee became the first Asian American woman to have a play produced on Broadway with the 2018 production of Straight White Men. Lee's plays have been presented at The Public Theater (Straight White Men, 2014), the Baryshnikov Arts Center (Untitled Feminist Show, 2011), Joe's Pub (We're Gonna Die, 2011), LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater (We're Gonna Die, 2012), Soho Repertory Theater (Lear, 2010) and many more. Lee has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards, a Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Doris Duke Artist Residency, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award, and the ZKB Patronage Prize of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel, among many other accolades.


Alexandra Billings

Celebrating Women's History Month: Women in Theatre Through the Decades: 2000s-2010s Alexandra Billings is a star of both stage and screen. On screen, she is perhaps best known for her role as Davina on Transparent, and on stage, her career spans from cabaret to Broadway! In 2018, Billings made her Broadway debut in The Nap at Manhattan Theatre Club, becoming one of the first openly trans people to be cast in a trans role on Broadway. In 2019, Billings became the first openly transgender person to star in Wicked when she took on the role of Madame Morrible. Billings wrote and starred in an autobiographical show, S/He & Me: A Theatrical Cabaret, which opened at The Los Angeles LGBT Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center in 2017. In 2016, Billings was awarded the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award.


Danai Gurira

Danai Guriria is an actress and playwright, known for her roles in The Walking Dead, Black Panther and more. In 2016, Gurira's play Eclipsed, which had premiered Off-Broadway in 2009, moved to Broadway in 2016 and became the first play to premiere on Broadway with an all female and black cast and creative team. Some of Gurira's 2010s theatre credits include her 2012 play The convert, which premiered as a co-production between The Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey; in January 2015, Gurira's play Familiar opened at Yale Repertory Theatre and later premiered Off-Broadway in New York at Playwrights Horizons. In 2012, Gurira received the Whiting Award for an emerging playwright, and in 2016 she received the Sam Norkin Award, for Eclipsed and Familiar, presented by the Drama Desk Awards.

Rachel Chavkin is one of the best-known directors in the world of theatre today. Chavkin directed an Off-Off Broadway production Three Pianos which ran at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in March 2010, and the New York Theatre Workshop in December 2010 to January 2011, and won her the 2010 Obie Award, Obie Special Citation. In 2013, Chavkin directed the Off-Broadway production of Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, which received the 2013 Obie Award, Special Citation. The musical opened on Broadway under Chavkin's direction in 2016, earning her a nomination for Best Director of a Musical. In 2016, she directed the Off-Broadway Lincoln Center production of The Royale by Marco Ramirez, earning a nomination for the 2016 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play, and receiving the 2016 Obie Award for Direction. In 2019, Chavkin won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Hadestown. Most recently, Chavkin directed the world premiere of Dave Malloy's Moby-Dick, which opened at the American Repertory Theater in 2019, earning her the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director, Large Theatre.


Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo is the recipient of an Emmy Award, a Tony Award, and a Grammy Award, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards! After starring in multiple UK and West End productions, including the 2013 Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, and the 2014 West End musical I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical, Erivo shot to Broadway fame when she made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival transfer of The Color Purple. Erivo won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. For her performance with the cast of The Color Purple on NBC's The Today Show in May 2016, the cast of The Color Purple and The Today Show won the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award in the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program category. Erivo portrayed Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet in 2019, receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song. She is currently set to portray Aretha Franklin in the third season of the anthology series Genius, and is also set to star as The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Pinocchio.

Ali Stroker has the distinction of being the first actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to appear on a Broadway stage. She originated the role of Anna in Deaf West's 2015 revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway, and starred in the 2018 St. Ann's Warehouse's revival of Oklahoma! as Ado Annie. When the production transferred to Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre in 2019, Stroker won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, making her the first person who uses a wheelchair for mobility to be nominated for and to receive that award. She and director/actor David Perlow are founding directors of ATTENTIONTheatre.



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