Jun 11, 2012 - Claremont, Calif. -
Gregory Rae ’00
Michael Wilson ’63
This year's top two Tony Awards--Best Play and Best Musical--went to works co-produced by Harvey Mudd College alumni-trustees.
The winner for Best Play, "Clybourne Park," was co-produced by HMC Board of Trustees member and computer science/mathematics alumnus Gregory Rae ’00, and the winner for Best Musical, "Once," was co-produced by HMC trustee and engineering alumnus Michael Wilson ’63.
Both "Clybourne Park" and "Once" have been praised by theatre critics for their independent vision and creativity. The Los Angeles Times summed up Sunday's ceremony with the headline, "At the Tony Awards, artistic quality and risk-taking win out over commerce as the little musical 'Once' and 'Clybourne Park' triumph."
"Clybourne Park" is a 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Bruce Norris that examines the interplay of race, real estate and human values. Set in the Clybourne Park neighborhood of Chicago, the first act takes place in 1959, when the neighborhood is middle-class white, and portrays a family's experience as anxious community leaders attempt to prevent them from selling their home to a black family. The second act takes place in the same house, present day, as an African-American family struggles against the gentrification of their neighborhood. "Clybourne Park" beat out "Other Desert Cities," by Jon Robin Baitz, "Peter and the Starcatcher," by Rick Elice, and "Venus in Fur," by David Ives.
"When I read the play, I was struck by how relevant it is," said Rae. "During the years of the Obama presidency, I think many of us have lulled ourselves into believing that we live in a post-racial world, but I think one of the things this play does so well is illustrate that the conversation about race in this country is far from over. Even more than that, in delving into the story of the neighborhood, it illustrates that the story is more than just about race, but also
about socioeconomic conditions."
"Clybourne Park" is Rae's second Tony Award-winning production. Last year, Rae co-produced "A Normal Heart," which won for Best Revival of a Play. The play, set in New York City during the early days of the HIV epidemic and nominated for five Tonys; the production's stars Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey won best actress and best actor in a featured role in a play.
"Once" is an adaptation of the 2006 Academy Award-winning independent film by the same name, based on the novel by Enda Walsh. "Once" tells the story of an Irish street musician and a Czech immigrant who share a love of music, fall in love, but whose lives take them in different directions. The musical "Once" beat out "Leap of Faith," "Newsies," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and won seven other Tony awards for including Best Direction of a Musical and Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Steve Kazee.
Wilson began his producing career in 1976 working with Cubby Broccoli on The Spy Who Loved Me, and they co-produced the next six Bond films, five of which he co-wrote. He then went on to produce Golden Eye with his stepsister Barbara Broccoli, followed by the next five 007 releases. Wilson is a trustee for the National Museum of Science and Industry and chairman of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.
Rae, who divides his time between investing and political activism, was also an investor in "The Scottsboro Boys," which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, as well as in a film called "The Green," which is currently playing at film festivals. He also serves as treasurer of Fight Back New York, a political action committee that promotes marriage equality.