(VIDEO) David Cromer, Former Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Student and Teacher, Wins Tony Award for Directing Broadway Hit ‘The Band’s Visit’

David Cromer

The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department proudly congratulations former Theatre Department student and faculty member David Cromer HDR ’17 on winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.

David Cromer (right) with “The Band’s Visit” star Tony Shalhoub

David Cromer (left) and “The Band’s Visit” composer David Yazbek

Cromer — who studied acting and directing at the Columbia College Theatre Department and later taught and directed shows there, and who received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Columbia College in 2017 — won the Tony for directing the Broadway hit The Band’s Visit, which also won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Sound Design of a Musical, Best Orchestrations, and for the performances by leading actors Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub and supporting actor Ari’el Stachel.


David Cromer

In his report on the Tony Awards, Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones dubbed Cromer “unarguably the leading auteur stage director to emerge from the Chicago theater in a generation” because of his “multi-decade career dedicated to struggling characters who find themselves on life’s margins.”

And Chicago Sun-Times entertainment editor Darel Jevens noted in his report that “Cromer used his [acceptance] speech to make a plea to those whose ‘despair is overwhelming their hope.’ . . . ‘If you are suffering, please, please call out,’ Cromer said. ‘For those of us fortunate enough not be be suffering so deeply, please be sure we answer them.’ ”

Here’s a video of Cromer’s Tony Award acceptance speech:

The Band’s Visit marks Cromer’s first Tony Award, the Broadway theatre’s top prize. His previous Broadway credits as a director include revivals of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (in 2009) and John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves (in 2011). In addition, he has acted on Broadway in the 2014 revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun that starred Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo. The 72nd Annual Tony Awards ceremony was held on June 10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York; the event was broadcast live by CBS.

David Cromer in “Our Town”

As reported previously in this blog, Cromer won a 2017 Obie Award for directing The Band’s Visit in its original run Off-Broadway in the 2016-2017 season. Besides The Band’s Visit, Cromer’s Off-Broadway credits include directing the musical Adding Machine (2008 Obie Award, Direction; 2008 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director) and the plays Our Town (2009 Obie Award, Direction; 2009 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director) and When the Rain Stops Falling (2010 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director). In Chicago, he won Joseph Jefferson Awards for directing the plays Angels in America (1998), The Price (2002), The Cider House Rules (2003), and Our Town (2009).

Coincidentally, Writers Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe has announced that David Cromer will direct its production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal next season. The show — whose musical director will be Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department faculty member Andra Velis Simon — will run May 8 through June 16, 2019, at the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.

In May 2017, Cromer delivered the commencement speech at Columbia College Chicago’s 2017 graduation ceremony. Here’s a video of Cromer’s 2017 Columbia College commencement speech at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre: