‘Secret Life of Bees’ musical in development; Baayork Lee to receive special Tony

The stage musical version of Sue Monk Kidd’s 2001 coming-of-age novel “The Secret Life of Bees” (which was previously adapted into a 2008 film with Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys) will receive a developmental production this summer at Vassar College as part of its annual Powerhouse Season of works-in-progress. The season will also include new pieces by actor Josh Radnor, Lisa Kron (“Fun Home”), Stephen Trask (“Hedwig”) and Lynn Nottage (“Sweat”).

Baayork Lee to receive special Tony honor

Baayork Lee, who originated the role of Connie in “A Chorus Line” and has gone on to become a director-choreographer and a leader of the Asian-American performing arts community, will receive the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award, which recognizes substantial volunteer work. “Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatergoers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theater professionals to do the same is exemplary,” Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens said in a joint statement.

Andy Karl doing most performances of ‘Groundhog Day’ following injury

Andy Karl, who miraculously returned to “Groundhog Day” last week on opening night, just three days after sustaining a serious knee tear, is doing six out of eight performances of the musical this week, in compliance with instructions from his doctors. Understudy Andrew Call will continue to fill in as sarcastic weatherman Phil Connors during Karl’s absences.

Drama Desk and OCC announce nominations

Even before the last remaining Broadway shows of the season had officially opened, the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk jumped the gun (as they do every year) and announced their annual award nominations this week. The musicals “Hello Dolly!” “Come From Away” and “Anastasia” topped both sets of nominations. Multiple Broadway shows (including “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”) were ineligible for nominations since they were previously considered by the organizations during their off-Broadway premieres. This year’s Tony nominations will be announced on Tuesday morning.

Sound design returns to the Tony Awards

Three years ago, the Tony Awards administration randomly decided to get rid of the award categories for best sound design of a play and musical. This week, it was announced that the categories will return beginning next year. However, only a certain qualified subset of the Tony voter pool will be allowed to cast a vote for best sound design. The same restriction will also now apply to the award for best orchestrations.


Andie MacDowell at “Groundhog Day”… Newt Gingrich and Sigourney Weaver at “Hello, Dolly!”… Anna Chlumsky at “Present Laughter”… Jennifer Holliday at “On Your Feet!”… John Stamos, Ben Vereen and Andy Cohen at “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”… David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry at “Six Degrees of Separation.”