posted June 9, 2005

Hope Summer Repertory Theatre Alums Win Tony Awards

West Michigan viewers of the 2005 Tony Awards may have noticed someone familiar. Twice.

Two Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT) alums won Tony Awards at the 59th Annual Award ceremony held June 5 in New York.

Norbert Leo Butz won for "Best Performance for a Leading Actor in a Musical" for his role in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." He beat out fellow cast member, John Lithgow, for the award. Butz also won a 2002 Tony in the same category for "Thou Shall Not." He has also performed in the Broadway hits, "Wicked" and "Rent."

Butz worked with the HSRT in 1991, appearing in "The Boys Next Door," "The Human Comedy," and "A Man for All Seasons."

Paw Paw native Jerry Mitchell was the favorite for "Best Choreography" since he was nominated twice, including working with Butz on "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." But it was his work in "La Cage Aux Folles" which brought him his first Tony after being nominated four times.

In an interview with Sue Merrell of the "Grand Rapids Press," Mitchell spoke highly of HSRT and Producing Director Mary Schakel.

"Mary was my biggest cheerleader," Mitchell told Merrell. "I learned so much from her about being part of the production team and respecting everyone's work - costumes, sound, choreography, everything."

Mitchell worked with Schakel as an acting intern with HSRT in 1977 and 1978. Besides working in the costume shop, he also appeared on stage during those two years in "Man of La Mancha," "West Side Story," "The Robber Bridegroom," and "Inherit the Wind."

His work on "La Cage" also won him the Outer Critic's Circle and Drama Desk awards.

HSRT is a professional theatre company working in repertory format throughout the summer on the Hope College campus. Now in its 34th season, the company continues to provide high quality, professional theatre for West Michigan audiences. To learn more about HSRT visit their website at www.hope.edu/hsrt.