"Look to the Lady": A Look Back at Female Tony Nominees for Best Director

By Carey Purcell
June 6, 2014

Playbill.com looks at the history of female directors who have received Tony Award nominations.



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Tony nominee Leigh Silverman, who directed the Roundabout Theatre Company's critically acclaimed Broadway production of Violet, is the only woman to receive a 2014 Tony nomination for directing a play or musical on Broadway this season. In honor of Silverman's nomination, Playbill looks at previously nominated women who helmed productions on Broadway.

Click through to see some of the female directors who received Tony Award nominations for direction.

June Havoc

The performer, known as the inspiration for Dainty June in the Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical Gypsy, received a Tony Award nomination for directing the play Marathon '33 in 1964.

Vinnette Carroll

The first African-American woman to direct on Broadway, Carroll was nominated for directing the 1972 production of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, which she followed in 1977 with Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, for which she also wrote the book.

Elizabeth Swados

Swados received four Tony nominations for 1978's Runaways, a musical about the lives of children who ran away from home and lived on the city streets. Inspired by workshops conducted by Swados with real-life runaways, Swados was nominated for Best Book, Best Original Score, Best Choreography and Best DIrection of a Musical. 

Barbara Damashek

Damashek helmed Quilters, a musical about American pioneer women, in 1985, receiving a Tony nomination for Direction. Damashek also received nods for Score and Book of a Musical.

Carole Rothman

Rothman, who has served as artistic director at Second Stage Theatre, received a Tony nomination for her direction of Coastal Disturbances, a drama set on a New England beach, in 1987.

Julie Taymor
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Graciela Daniele

A ten-time Tony nominee, Daniele has choreographed the musicals Ragtime, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Rink and The Pirates of Penzance, among others. Her directing credits include Once on This Island, for which she received a Tony nomination in 1991.

Eleanor Reissa

A fellow Tony nominee in 1991, Reissa directed Those Were the Days, a revue of Yiddish songs, dances and sketches conceived by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld.

Emily Mann

Mann's directing credits include A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics and Execution of Justice. She received a Tony nomination in 1995 for directing Having Our Say.

Julie Taymor

After being nominated in 1997 for Juan Darien, Taymor made history in 1998 when she won the Tony for Best Director of a Musical for helming the stage adaptation of Disney's The Lion King

Read Playbill.com's interview with Julie Taymor here

Garry Hynes

Hynes also made history that year when she won the Tony for Best Direction of a Play for 1998's The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The evening marked the first time two women took both directing prizes, as well as the first time that a woman had won in either category. Hynes has also directed The Lonesome West, Sixteen Wounded and Translations.

Susan Stroman
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Susan Stroman

The prolific director and choreographer has been nominated four times for direction, twice in 2000, for Contact and The Music Man. Along with her numerous Tony Awards for Choreography, Stroman took home the Tony in 2000 for directing The Producers and was nominated in 2011 for The Scottsboro Boys. She is also nominated this season for her choreography of Bullets Over Broadway

Twyla Tharp

Tharp won the Tony for Best Choreography and received a nomination for Best Direction of a Musical for Movin' Out, her interpretation of Billy Joel's music through dance. She was also nominated for 2010's Come Fly Away, a series of dance sequences set to Frank Sinatra's songs.

Kathleen Marshall

Director and choreographer Marshall has received Tony nominations for her direction of Wonderful Town, The Pajama Game, Anything Goes and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She has also won the Tony for Best Choreography for Wonderful Town, The Pajama Game and Anything Goes

Maria Aitken

Aitken, who helmed the Alfred Hitchcock-inspired The 39 Steps in 2008, received a Tony Award nomination for her work.

Phyllida Lloyd

Lloyd, who also directed the long-running ABBA hit Mamma Mia!, helmed Mary Stuart on Broadway in 2009 and received her first Tony nomination.


Diane Paulus
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
 

Sheryl Kaller

The Broadway production of Next Fall, the 2010 drama about a relationship between two gay men, was led by Sheryl Kaller, who also helmed Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, nominated this season for Best Play. 

Anna D. Shapiro

Shapiro won the Tony Award for leading August: Osage County in 2008. She followed this with The Motherf**ker With the Hat, receiving a second Tony nomination in 2011. She also directed 2014's Of Mice and Men.

Pam MacKinnon

The 2013 Tony Awards marked the second time women took home the Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play and Musical. Best Direction of a Play went to Pam MacKinnon for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? MacKinnon had previously been nominated for Clybourne Park.

Diane Paulus

After receiving two nominations, for Hair and Porgy and Bess, Paulus won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical in 2013, for the circus-inspired production of Pippin.