Tony Awards airing Sunday include Wright State connections

The 77th annual Tony Awards, airing Sunday, June 16 live from Lincoln Center in New York City, will notably incorporate four connections to Wright State University.

2014 Wright State University dance alumna Tilly Evans-Krueger is the associate choreographer and an ensemble member of “The Outsiders,” nominated for 12 Tonys including Best Musical and Best Choreography. In addition to performing with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company while studying dance, her credits include Broadway’s “Moulin Rouge!,” off-Broadway’s “The Lucky Ones,” “Rent Live!,” the film version of “In the Heights,” and Ariana Grande’s music video “yes, and?” In “The Outsiders,” movingly led by Tony nominee Brody Grant as soul-searching Ponyboy, Evans-Krueger is among the working-class Greasers who brings fierce physicality to an extraordinarily choreographed Act 2 rumble against the privileged Socs.

In addition Evans-Krueger received the 2024 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Dancer in a Broadway Show.

“It’s so crazy to be recognized as a dancer — it doesn’t happen very often,” Evans-Krueger said in her acceptance speech. “(Dancers) are the hardest-working people ever and the most selfless people. We do this because we truly love it... And I live by the quote by Kendrick Lamar: If I’m generous at heart, I don’t need recognition. The way I’m rewarded, well, that’s God’s decision.”



“When you watch Tilly, the passion to move oozes out of every pore,” said Marya Spring Cordes, faculty member, Associate Chair and the Artistic Director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Wright State.

The electrifying production of “The Who’s Tommy,” nominated for Best Revival of a Musical, features 2022 Wright State University musical theatre alumna Tassy Kirbas in the ensemble and as the Acid Queen understudy. In 2022 Kirbas delivered a phenomenal portrayal of Charity Hope Valentine in Wright State’s production of “Sweet Charity,” directed by Cordes.



“WSU audiences knew as they watched Tassy’s triple threat prowess as the lead role in ‘Sweet Charity’ only two short years ago that we were witnessing greatness,” Cordes recalled. “It was my great privilege to direct Tassy as we created the production together. Her spirit twinkles through her eyes in a way that lights up any room and any stage from Ohio to NYC.”

Also, D’Kaylah Unique Whitley, who studied musical theatre at Wright State and appeared on Broadway in “Dear Evan Hansen,” is an understudy for such roles as Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell in “Suffs,” which received six nominations including Best Musical.

“She left WSU just before her graduation to be put into the then-running ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and now is in the cast of ‘Suffs’ — up for Best Musical!” Cordes said. “There is no stopping that smile or that voice.”



In addition, three-time Tony Award-winning producer Joey Monda, a 2012 Wright State University musical theatre graduate, notably produced “The Notebook,” nominated for three Tonys, as well as “Days of Wine and Roses,” a new musical composed by Adam Guettel (“The Light in the Piazza”) that received nominations for leading actor and actress in a musical as well as original score.

“The Tonys are around the corner and it is so gratifying to witness the Wright State connections across all of the disciplines of the Wright State Theatre and Dance programs,” Cordes said. “I am proud of all of our faculty’s dedication to excellence in artistic training that shepherds our students into the professional careers of their dreams.”

In related news, Dayton native Dorian Harewood received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his wonderfully heartfelt portrayal of Older Noah in the aforementioned “Notebook.” The emotionally compelling adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, co-directed by Dayton native Schele Williams, also received nominations for Maryann Plunkett’s impactful leading performance as Older Allie and Bekah Brunstetter’s charming book. Harewood’s numerous acting credits include Simon Haley in “Roots: The Next Generation” and the titular role in “The Jesse Owens Story.”


What: The 77th annual Tony Awards, hosted by Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose, airing live from New York’s Lincoln Center David A. Koch Theater.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, June 16 on CBS.

More info: For a complete list of nominations, visit

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