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Tony Finds a Home on ‘Avenue Q’

Posted in News on June 6, 2004
Breakthrough musical comedy Avenue Q was among the top winners at the 58th Annual Tony Awards, held June 6 at Radio City Music Hall.

Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez

Winning three awards out of six nominations, the Sesame Street-like satire took home the coveted Best Musical Tony in a surprise win over top-nominated Wicked. The hit show, which features puppets and people as neighbors, also earned BMI composers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez a Tony Award for Best Original Score, as well as the Best Book award for Jeff Whitty.

"Avenue Q" writers Jeff Marx (left) and Robert Lopez (center) stopped by the BMI New York office after the Tony Awards and are seen here being congratulated by BMI's Frances Preston, Jean Banks and Del Bryant. Photo by Dana Rodriguez

Marx and Lopez, who met in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in 1998, developed Avenue Q there. A sassy and irreverent story about newfound friends struggling to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life, Avenue Q opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre (in a co-production with the New Group) in March 2003. It was extended four times before moving to Broadway's Golden Theatre in July 2003. The show also won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, and earned a nomination for the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical Award.

More hearty congrats came from some of the Workshop Steering Committee members, including Nancy Golladay, Frank Evans, BMI's Jean Banks, Marx, Lopez, David Spencer and Jane Smulyan. Photo by Eric Miller

The Marx and Lopez writing team also collaborated on a Muppet movie version of Hamlet called Kermit, Prince of Denmark, which earned them the coveted Kleban Award in 2000. The $150,000 prize, given annually to a lyricist and a librettist, was established by the late Ed Kleban, lyricist for the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Chorus Line and an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.

BMI's Idina Menzel was also honored at the June 6 ceremony, winning a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the hit musical Wicked.