Broadway’s biggest night features Dayton connections

Three-time Tony Award-winning Wright State grad among nominees.



Three-time Tony Award-winning producer Joey Monda, a Wright State University musical theatre graduate, could win his fourth Tony when the 76th annual ceremony airs live from New York City tonight.

The Youngstown native is nominated for producing the upbeat and uplifting jukebox musical “& Juliet,” a romantic comedy smartly reimagining Shakespeare’s heroine on a journey to find life and love after Romeo. Nominated for nine Tonys including Best Musical, the show features the music of pop hitmaker Max Martin (“Since U Been Gone,” “That’s The Way It Is,” “Roar,” “Larger Than Life,” “I Kissed a Girl,” and “Baby One More Time” among many others).

Monda saw the show in London’s West End in November 2021 with his fellow producing partner Lorenzo Thione of Sing Out, Louise! Productions. They instantly agreed it was a property worth backing.

“We loved it so much and knew we had to be a part of it whenever it came over to the U.S.,” said Monda, 33. “We were kept (informed) on the Broadway timeline and we jumped onboard to help with the marketing and raise the money to bring it to (Broadway). I don’t think any of us thought it would be the standout of the season it has been, but we knew it would do decently. It has taken a lot of people by surprise.”

Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

“& Juliet” opened Nov. 17 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. In a season accented with heavier, dramatic nominees ranging from the revivals of “A Doll’s House,” “Parade” and “Sweeney Todd” to new works such as “Leopoldstadt” and “Prima Facie,” the show has distinguished itself as a feel-good diversion.

“People want fun things right now,” Monda said. “This is a bubble gum show. It’s a crowd-pleasing musical in which you’re already familiar with the characters and the music and it takes all of those expectations and spins them. You come away having a great Broadway experience without necessarily having to make such a big leap to follow the stories and new characters. We’re selling the music of your generation, your childhood, brought to life in a new way. It’s a party musical.”

Shows that resonate

Monda’s Tony victories stem from producing “Hadestown” (Best Musical, 2019), “The Inheritance” (Best Play, 2020) and “A Strange Loop” (Best Musical, 2022). He was also nominated for producing 2019′s “Slave Play.”

He says those shows and others shepherded by Sing Out, Louise! Productions, including the Human Race Theatre Company’s current world premiere musical “Indigo,” resonate with contemporary, progressive-minded audiences on multiple levels from empowerment to identity. “& Juliet” notably features a prominent non-binary character that has one of the show’s strongest moments due to the ballad “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.”

“It’s very affirming that our office has our eyes on the things audiences respond to or have messages that are resonating with audience bases,” said Monda. “It’s validation for continuing to try to find theater that is exciting and saying something new and doing something new while having a place in the general zeitgeist and the larger conversation we are having right now. ‘& Juliet’ speaks to a new generation in a vocabulary that a new generation is responding to – it’s not pandering.”

‘It’s been an incredible ride’

Broadway’s fun-loving, nostalgic musical comedy “Some Like It Hot,” featuring Wright State University musical theatre graduate K.J. Hippensteel, leads the pack with 13 Tony nominations including Best Musical.

“Some Like It Hot,” which opened Dec. 11 at the Shubert Theatre, is based on Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 film of the same name and features songs by Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”). The musical takes an updated diversity and gender-embracing approach to the story of two musicians who witness a mob murder. Disguised as women, they seek refuge in the company of an all-female jazz band.

Within the ensemble, Hippensteel portrays Bar Manager/Man with Suitcase and also understudies the lead role of Joe/Josephine portrayed by Christian Borle, who received a Tony nomination for his performance. In addition to portraying Elder Price in “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway and London’s West End, he appeared on Broadway last season in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” understudying the lead role of Daniel Hillard portrayed by Tony nominee Rob McClure.

“It’s been an incredible ride,” said Hippensteel, 39. “This show is so special. The performances are so special. It’s one of those things that just keeps giving. It’ll be the first time I’ll be performing on the Tonys – it’s great to have that opportunity. The (cast) is so generous. It’s a happy place to work.”

When Borle was out for two weeks in early spring, Hippensteel recalls the terrifying thrill of leading the show opposite Tony nominee J. Harrison Ghee who portrays Jerry/Daphne. He says the assignment requires a give-and-take among his fellow actors.

“There’s a fear at first, but I’ve developed a system in my mind that helps me know what I need to do to get ready as opposed to just ‘winging it,’ playing it by ear and relying on the people around me,” he explained. “It’s nice to know there are people who have your back – it’s safe. Christian and J. are amazing. I did my preparation but having the (cast) ready to catch me was what really made it work.”

Even though he’s heading to the Tonys, Hippensteel is very mindful of taking life one day at a time.

“This business has a way of forcing you – even against your own will – of living in the moment,” he said. “When I was training at Wright State, we were told to live in the moment on stage but it’s hard to do in reality. In this business, we’re just along for the ride. You still have to hustle and constantly be on your game, but moments like this, going to the Tonys, is something we all dream about. It’s going to be a fun night of celebration. I’m excited. It feels spectacular but also heartwarming because none of these moments last.”

Additional ties

Also, the new play “Good Night, Oscar,” the story of actor Oscar Levant produced by West Milton native and Tony winner Jimmy Wilson (“A Strange Loop”), received three nominations including a lead actor nod for Emmy winner Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”).



Monda is grateful to be nominated again but reiterates the importance of doing great work regardless of accolades.

“None of us can ever do anything for awards or a statue,” he said. “I always say recoupment is much better than a statue. I’m so fortunate that I get to wake up every day and work in a business I’ve loved since I was 5 years old. I continue to love what I do so much.”


What: The 76th Annual Tony Awards

When: Tonight

Channel: A pre-show of live, exclusive content will air from 6:30-8 p.m. on Pluto TV followed by live coverage from 8-11 p.m. on CBS. The ceremony will also be available for streaming on Paramount+.

More info: Visit

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