Susan Stroman has these two to thank for the beginning of her rise to uber-director-choreographer. Boyd Gaines and Deborah Yates danced the roles of a depressed ad executive and the Girl in the Yellow Dress who saves his life in Contact, the hit that put Stroman's name on theatre-goers' lips.
Stroman has had two extraordinary years. The 1999-2000 season saw her win a Best Choreography Tony for Contact while also receiving plaudits for her work on a revival of The Music Man. She followed that up with 2001's mega-hit The Producers, netting her Tonys for direction and choreography. Her stamp as a choreographer was also left on such works as the Kander & Ebb musical Steel Pier, the annual Madison Square Garden Christmas Carol, the hit tuner Crazy For You and lavish Livent revival of Show Boat. This spring, Stroman brings the lauded London revival of Oklahoma! to the Gershwin Theatre.
Founded in 1985 to honor the late playwright and director George Abbott, the prize has previously gone to such notables as Trevor Nunn, Jerry Zaks, Gillian Lynne, Lloyd Richards Graciela Daniele, Vinnette Carroll and Mike Nichols. This year, a portion of the proceeds from the ceremony will go to benefit the newly-created Mike Ockrent Fellowship, named after the London-born director and Stroman's late husband.