Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Students Meet Tony Award-Winning Director and Former Columbia Theatre Teacher David Cromer

David Cromer

The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department was proud to welcome former Theatre Department student and faculty member David Cromer HDR ’17, winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for The Band’s Visit, back to campus on April 15, 2019. Cromer, now based in New York, was in Chicago to direct a new production of the musical Next to Normal at Writers Theatre, and on his day off he dropped by the Getz Theater Center of Columbia College in Chicago’s South Loop to talk with students and reconnect with former classmates and colleagues.

Cromer’s visit was covered by The Chronicle, Columbia College’s student-run newspaper. Chronicle reporter Kendall Polidori interviewed students who attended the event, including freshman Musical Theatre major Elizabeth Sacha. “Sacha said having Cromer speak to the Theatre Department shows possibilities for students,” the Chronicle article says. “She added that so many times directors, playwrights and composers seem as though they are from a different world because they are only seen on screen and their music is only heard from afar. ‘For them to sit down and talk to us makes the fantasy seem like a possibility,’ Sacha said.” To read the full article, click here.

David Cromer

David Cromer

As previously reported in this blog, Cromer received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Columbia College when he gave the commencement address at the 2017 Columbia College Chicago graduation. To see a video of Cromer’s commencement speech, click here.

Also as previously reported in this blog, Cromer headlined a Columbia College alumni/development event in New York in November 2018, when the college’s Board of Trustees Chair Bill Wolf, his wife Meredith Bluhm-Wolf, and Columbia College President Kwang-Wu Kim hosted a “New York City Broadway Experience” for a group of Columbia College trustees, donors, alumni, and special guests in New York. The weekend included a performance of The Band’s Visit and a private breakfast with Cromer, at which Cromer discussed how his Columbia education prepared him for a successful career on Broadway and beyond. The event raised more than $15,000 to support current and future Theatre students.

Originally from the Chicago area, David Cromer has been associated with Columbia College Chicago since the fall of 1982, when he began as an Acting major in what was then the Theatre/Music Department. In the late 1980s, he returned to Columbia to study Theatre Directing and returned again in the early ’90s to teach. While still a student, Cromer was afforded multiple opportunities to work professionally by the faculty of the college. When Cromer began directing plays professionally in Chicago, he continued the tradition of using Columbia as a major resource for new, energized, fearless talent. Cromer was a part-time faculty member at Columbia for 15 years before he relocated to New York.

David Cromer’s staging of Next to Normal runs May 8 through June 16 at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe. The show’s musical director, Andra Velis Simon, is a faculty member in the Musical Theatre program at the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department.

The Band’s Visit, which has completed its Broadway run, will play in Chicago September 3 through 15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph in Chicago’s Loop Theatre District, as part of a national tour that begins June 25. For tickets, click here.

David Cromer on the occasion of receiving the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for “The Band’s Visit.”

As a director, Cromer has been lauded for his innovative take on such classic American plays as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, William Inge’s Picnic, and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as his stewardship of critically acclaimed new works, including the musicals Adding Machine and The Band’s Visit. Besides winning the Tony Award for directing The Band’s Visit, he has received multiple awards for his work as a director, including:

  • Joseph Jefferson Awards (Chicago): for Director – Play (Angels in America, Parts I and II, 1998; The Price, Writers Theatre, 2002; The Cider House Rules: Part I and The Cider House Rules: Part II, 2003; Our Town, 2009);
  • Obie Awards (Off-Broadway): for Director (Adding Machine, 2008; Our Town, 2009; The Band’s Visit, 2017);
  • Lucille Lortel Awards (Off-Broadway): for Outstanding Director (Adding Machine2008 — the production also won the Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical; Our Town, 2009 — the production also won the Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival; When the Rain Stops Falling, 2010).