Tony Awards 2012 Recap: Winner of Best Musical “Once” Features Hudson Valley Actors, Writers, Musicians; Other Winners Include Newsies, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Peter and the Starcatcher

The Tony Awards recognize Hudson Valley actors, actresses, designers, and writers

It’s natural that our area — with its proximity to the Great White Way — would be well represented at the Tony Awards. Still, this felt like an especially good year. 

Once, based on the heart-meltingly charming 2006 film, was the big winner of the night, taking home awards by the fistful. (Want to know them all? Okay, deep breath: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Sound Design of a Musical. Phew.)

ripley soboLead Cristin Milioti (left) celebrates with Ripley Sobo, an Orange County resident

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And, while our local connections to the musical didn’t get their own statutes, if you caught the performance, you can see that the sweet magic of the show is really a group effort — the actors double as the pit musicians, and everyone contributes to Once’s romantic vibe. That includes two locals: Somers resident Lucas Papaelias, who plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and drums in the show, and Orange County’s Ripley Sobo, the young actress who plays Ivanka, the lead’s daughter.

Once made headlines this Tony season because it beat out the big, Disney-backed blockbuster, Newsies. Newsies received eight nominations to Once’s 11, and it only brought home two of them: Best Score and Best Choreography. It’s no surprise to people who follow awards that the Best Score Tony went to North Salem resident Alan Menken. He has 11 Grammy Awards, eight Oscars, seven Golden Globes, and now a Tony Award. He’s an Emmy away from an EGOT — get to scoring some TV shows, Menken!

While it might be a surprise that Once bested Newsies for the Best Musical Tony, no one was much surprised with who brought home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Croton-on-Hudson’s Audra McDonald. Praise has been unending for her turn as Bess in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. The musical also brought home the award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Our final statue goes to Eastchester native and Purchase College alum Jeff Croiter, who won Best Lighting Design for Peter and the Starcatcher. Local competition in that category was apparently stiff. According to, not only was Croiter up against another Purchase alum, Brian MacDevitt (Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman), he was nominated alongside another Eastchester High School grad, Kenneth Posner (Other Desert Cities).

Other than the awards, what did you think of the ceremonies? I found it odd at how many awards were given out during the commercials. Not just the techy awards, either — big ones like Best Book and Best Choreography. The actual on-air portion of the show seemed reserved for performances (which, fine, were a highlight) and acting awards — you know, the places where you are most likely to see movies stars instead of theater vets. To me, it was a weak move.

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