Live Updates: Tony Awards to Honor the Best of Broadway

Live Updates: Tony Awards to Honor the Best of Broadway

Matt Stevens

The 2021 filmed production of “Fat Ham” for the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.Credit…Wilma Theater, via Associated Press

The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia is being honored for its work over the last five decades as an acclaimed and innovative regional theater.

First established in 1973 as a feminist collective called the Wilma Project, the Wilma moved into its current 300-seat theater in Center City in 1996. It has produced works by Tom Stoppard and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights like James Ijames and Paula Vogel. Its 2021 digital production of Ijames’s “Fat Ham” was a hit, and the play eventually made its way to Broadway.

Leigh Goldenberg, the Wilma’s managing director, recalled that she had been on Zoom discussing the theater’s budget last month when the phone rang. The caller identification said “BROADWAY.” And indeed, (the) Broadway (League) was calling — with good news.

“It does feel like a win,” Yury Urnov, one of the Wilma’s co-artistic directors, said of the Tony. “We are doing risky, bold, weird, crazy theater, and this is encouraging us to keep going. Risk is hard, and risk is specifically hard in this time.”

The Wilma’s leadership team, which was anchored for decades by Blanka Zizka, doesn’t just mount shows. The Wilma first debuted its educational programs in 2000, and 16 years later, Zizka helped create a resident acting company known as the HotHouse, an incubator for artistic experimentation.

Zizka retired in 2021 and left in place a leadership structure in which three artistic directors work with a managing director to jointly oversee the organization.

One of the artistic directors, Morgan Green, is directing “Hilma,” a contemporary opera exploring the life and work of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint; the world-premiere opera by the playwright Kate Scelsa and the composer Robert M. Johanson is running this month and closes out the Wilma’s season.

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