In the Heights Director Thomas Kail Receives Martin Segal Award

News   In the Heights Director Thomas Kail Receives Martin Segal Award
Thomas Kail, the twentysomething director of the Broadway musical In the Heights, was one of two recipients of the 2008 Martin E. Segal Awards, presented by Lincoln Center March 18.

Kail and American cellist Alisa Weilerstein received $7,500 each at a luncheon at Lincoln Center's Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. The money is to be used for future study and career advancement.

This year marks a $2,500 increase in the size of the cash award. Now in its 22nd year, the distinguished award is given annually to two rising young artists in recognition of outstanding achievement.

Lincoln Center chairman Frank A. Bennack, Jr. and President Reynold Levy presided over the event. Martin Segal, in whose name the Award was established, also participated in the ceremony.

On a rotating basis since the inception of the prize, two of Lincoln Center's 12 resident arts constituents have been asked to nominate an artist or ensemble associated with their organization to receive the Martin E. Segal Award. This year's winners were selected by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The Martin E. Segal Awards were established by Lincoln Center's board of directors and a group of Segal's friends and colleagues when he retired as Lincoln Center chairman in 1986. The awards "mark Mr. Segal's demonstrated history of leadership and commitment to supporting and developing the careers of up-and-coming artists." Kail made his Broadway debut this month with the official opening of the new musical, In the Heights, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, the show — about three days in the life of Washington Heights — originally opened Off-Broadway in February 2007 at the 37 Arts Theater for a run of 182 performances. Kail was the recipient of the 2006-07 Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers' Joseph A. Callaway Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award for his work on the production.

While scouting for promising new works, Patrick Hoffman, director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Theater on Film and Tape Archive, immediately identified In the Heights as a musical that should be preserved, and taped the show for the Library's archives in June 2007.

Kail is artistic director and co-founder of Back House Productions (BHP), the resident theatre of New York City's The Drama Book Shop. BHP has developed many new works since its founding in 2001, including early versions of In the Heights and Anne Nelson's Savages. After directing Jules Feiffer's Feiffer's People for BHP, Kail was asked by the playwright to stage an evening of his work during a retrospective of his career at the New York Historical Society. Kail also directs and co-created Freestyle Love Surpreme, a hip-hop improv group that has performed at Ars Nova in New York City, the Aspen Comedy and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, and the 2006 Melbourne Comedy Festival. He has directed Anne Nelson's 9/11 play The Guys all over the East Coast, and produced and co-directed the short documentary "Critical Hours," which was an official selection of the New York Television Festival and Kids First Film and Video Festival. He's a graduate of Wesleyan University.

American cellist Alisa Weilerstein made her Mostly Mozart debut at Lincoln Center this past summer as the soloist in the New York premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's "Azul" for cello and orchestra.

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