Detroit honors seven Tony Award winners, nominees after big theater year

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

It's been a huge year for Detroiters on Broadway and the city is celebrating.

On Sunday afternoon, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan honored seven Detroit natives for their contributions to theater at a special press conference and event called "Broadway Comes Home to Detroit." Held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, it coincided with the Black Theatre Network holding its annual conference in Detroit this week.

Michael R. Jackson, second left, accepts the award for best new musical for "A Strange Loop" at the 75th annual Tony Awards on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The honorees included: playwright Michael R. Jackson, whose musical, "A Strange Loop," won Best Musical at last month's Tony Awards; playwright Dominique Morisseau who has had 10 shows on Broadway, including "Ain't Too Proud," the story of the Temptations, which opens in August in Detroit; Ron Simons, a four-time Tony Award-winning producer; Ruben Santiago-Hudson, a Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie Award winner; actress Chante Adams; Marilyn McCormick, a renowned Cass Technical High School theater educator who received a 2016 Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education; and Woodie King, Jr., an American director and producer of stage and screen and the founding director of the New Federal Theatre in New York.

Morisseau, a Cass Tech graduate, said she feels so proud to be one of many "scribes" from Detroit. She said the city is full of talented people and she's not unique.

"We have a whole city of gifted and talented people that we're going to cultivate," she said.

Along with his award from the city, King also was honored with a special bust of himself that was unveiled and will stay at the Wright museum. King said he remembered a time when "there was no place for Black artists."

Rochelle Riley, Detroit's director of arts and culture, said Detroit’s theater history "is so rich, so heralded and so hidden."

“Diahann Carroll became the first African American to win a Tony Award in a play that first premiered at the Fisher Theatre here," she said in a press release.