Wright State grad Tilly Evans-Krueger takes Broadway by storm

Meet this associate choreographer, performer with the Tony-winning musical adaptation of “The Outsiders.”

Wright State University dance alumna Alexis “Tilly” Evans-Krueger has taken Broadway by storm.

In addition to serving as associate choreographer of and portraying tomboy Ace in the Broadway musical adaptation of “The Outsiders,” the recipient of four 2024 Tony Awards on June 16 including Best Musical, she received the 2024 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Dancer in a Broadway Show on May 20.

“Dance is something I need — it’s not just something I do,” said Evans-Krueger, 32. “Dance has saved my life over and over again. To just be nominated for the Chita Rivera Award blew my mind and to win was so wild. It’s still so hard for me to believe. But I’m just so hard-working. I’m super proud of ‘The Outsiders’ and I’m super proud of the work I’m doing in it. To be considered the most outstanding dancer on Broadway is crazy.”

Before she joined “The Outsiders,” Evans-Krueger made her Broadway debut covering dance roles in “Moulin Rouge!” The coronavirus pandemic interrupted her trajectory with the show (she was initially slated to begin in March 2020) but she returned once Broadway reopened in 2021 and remained in the cast until 2023. Her extensive credits include off-Broadway’s “The Wrong Man” choreographed by Emmy winner Travis Wall (“So You Think You Can Dance”), music videos such as Grammy winner Ariana Grande’s “yes, and?,” and film and TV projects “Better Nate Than Ever,” “Rent Live!,” “In the Heights” and “Saturday Night Live.” She has also performed with such dance companies as Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle, and BODYTRAFFIC dance company in Los Angeles.



During callbacks for “The Outsiders,” Evans-Krueger chose to stay behind and learn fight choreography — a crucial decision that ultimately prompted an engaging conversation with director Danya Taymor, niece of Julie Taymor (Disney’s “The Lion King”), who received the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical.

“I was so excited and inspired by what I was taught during the callback and I think they saw the range in which my dancing could span,” she explained. “In the first initial auditions Danya was very thorough. She talked to me about my career and my life. And the next day, (choreographers) Rick and Jeff Kuperman called to ask me if I would be an associate choreographer and I said absolutely. Choreography and me have an interesting relationship. It scares me because it’s truly your own voice, but life is continuing to pull me down that road. The Kupermans and I were a really good match. And from the very beginning, Danya has been very special. We’ve all grown so much as leaders during this process, which began with the first workshop in 2022.”

She’s also appreciative of the support and guidance she has received from Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie, one of the lead producers.

“Angelina is honestly the best,” Evans-Krueger said. “She has made herself available to us. She has been so giving and has wanted to create with us outside of ‘The Outsiders.’ We all feel her generosity and it’s something I never thought I would have in my life. It’s really wild.”



‘I am inspired by choreographers I’ve worked with’

Based on the novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s film, “The Outsiders,” which opened April 11 at New York’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma circa 1967. Movingly led by Tony nominee Brody Grant as soul-searching Ponyboy Curtis, the coming-of-age story features Evans-Krueger among the working-class, disadvantaged Greasers bringing fierce physicality opposite the wealthy, privileged Socs (short for “Socials”).

“The vocabulary of the choreography is in two distinct styles for the Socs and the Greasers,” Evans-Krueger said. “For instance, at the drive-in, there are different duets that accent at the same time. We wanted the Socs to feel more proper yet still wild. They are raw but have a more erect spine. And due to my role as Ace, I was more (engrossed) in the Greasers vocabulary. I really wanted to play with rhythm and have the characters be earthy and grounded. I am inspired by choreographers I’ve worked with from Donald Byrd and Camille A. Brown to Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.”

She also reflected on the extraordinarily choreographed Act 2 rumble, a signature piece conceived in three phases that stunningly blends powerful stagecraft, visceral movement and Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim’s exceptional, Tony-winning lighting design.

“We knew what we wanted to say in that piece from the very beginning,” Evans-Krueger said. “Each duet shows different moves and different variations of fighting. There’s so much to watch because each individual track is created for a specific (character) and the way they would fight. Phase 1 is more realistic but it turns abstract. Phase 2 (showcases) everyone getting tangled up together in the violence and becoming an amoeba of everyone. Phase 3 is in unison but we’re all individual – we are all experiencing violence at the same time from a larger force. In the end we all collapse because no matter what you do if you have an enemy it’s going to impact everyone.”



In spite of the aggressive rivalry propelling the show, she values the camaraderie and friendship established within the cast from the outset, especially when digging deeper to uncover the backstory of Ace, an intriguing character which shares a kinship with Jets tomboy Anybodys from “West Side Story.”

“We took time connecting with each other,” Evans-Krueger recalled. “We had hour-long warm-ups together in which we did trust exercises. We were also super vulnerable. I wrote an entire story about my childhood through Ace’s eyes. A lot of it was brutal and real. People say Ace is a tomboy or just one of the boys, but that’s not just who she is. For her, it was not necessarily a choice. She started acting that way and dressing that way for protection. I think we’ve all experienced what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s the human experience. At one point in life everyone will have the experience of feeling different or feeling like an outsider, which is simply why the show is resonating.”

‘I had to be the best’

Evans-Krueger grew up in Madison, Wisc., where she was raised by her grandparents who were cloggers. Her mother, a gifted dancer, passed away last year. Although her mother was an addict and their relationship developed along the lines of a sisterhood, she says she “adored” her and has always felt a connection to her through dance.

“Everyone says my mother could have been a professional,” Evans-Krueger said. “I always wanted to live out that dream for her. The dream became mine but that is what sparked my true love for dance. And I knew if I was going to choose this path, I had to be excellent. My family always supported me emotionally, but I knew I had to support myself financially. I always had the idea in my mind that I had to be the best because there was no other choice.”



She graduated from Wright State in 2014 and is grateful to have been a part of DCDC and its pre-professional component DCDC2 during her four years. She performed for three years with DCDC2 and joined DCDC full-time her senior year as an apprentice. She also stayed with DCDC an additional season after graduation.

“DCDC was the biggest draw for me,” Evans-Krueger said. “The fact that Wright State partnered with a pre-professional program (made me realize) Wright State was where I needed to go. I saw the DCDC dancers at a dance competition in Wisconsin and I could not wait to be a part of that.”

DCDC taught her the importance of having a strong work ethic in particular.

“I learned what a healthy working environment looked like within the family aspect,” she said. “We were there for each other hardcore. I experienced sisterhood. I was the youngest as well and really felt taken care of. They are my family for life. DCDC also taught me resilience. After DCDC I knew I could do anything. And in DCDC2, I remember having to do a lot of lecture demonstrations for kids, including preschoolers. And you better believe we had our lashes on and our hair slicked back and we were giving our all — that’s the standard they set. I learned that no matter who you are performing to, no matter how many people, you give it your all.”

‘I’ve always had a crazy fire inside of me’

In March, Dance Magazine said Evans-Krueger “possesses a magnetic presence, ethereal movement quality, and contagious passion.” And it is that spark of magnetism, movement and passion that fuels her authenticity and determination.

“I’ve always had a crazy fire inside of me,” she admitted. “If I want something then I know nothing is going to stand in my way to get it. I’m ridiculously resilient in that way. I’ve also had a knowing of where I could get to but just being patient. I feel like I’ve always had a knowing of what’s coming even though I don’t know how it’s going to happen. And it’s not going to be an ego-driven thing but knowing you worked (hard) enough.”



Looking ahead, she anticipates choreographing a play for Taymor next season on Broadway and would like to shift her focus to acting as well.

“I want to act more,” she said. “I would love to get a series or a feature film, (particularly) a superhero or action film. I would love to do more music videos. I also have a dance concept film I’m really trying to get into the ether that I’ve been sitting on since 2020. And acting is dance. I’ve always been a dancer that creates a story behind my movement so that it’s actually felt. I’m not really interested in just moving my body, which is why I feel theater is amazing. I’m excited that my work in ‘The Outsiders’ has potential to lead to other things.”

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