A proud native of the Second City, producer Jenny Lawton joined Studio 360 in 2007. Since then, she's produced the show's American Icons specials on the Disney parks and I Love Lucy, lots of stories in the Aha Moments series, and a portrait of the Japanese tea ceremony from Kyoto. She also serves as the managing editor of studio360.org and coordinates the show's internship program. Jenny started recording interviews as a Watson Fellow in India and Spain, researching the origins of flamenco dance. She cut her teeth in journalism at Chicago Public Radio, where she filed stories on culture, politics, technology, and the environment for WBEZ as well as NPR's Morning Edition and PRI's The World, among other programs. Jenny was awarded a USC-Annenberg/NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, and lectures about radio and sound design at NYU and her alma mater, Kenyon College.
Preview: 2012 Tony Awards
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 11:55 AM
The 66th annual Tony Awards are Sunday, June 10. If you've been meaning to brush up on your Broadway, now's the time. Here's a round-up of Kurt Andersen's conversations with some of the nominees.
One Man, Two Guvnors
Awards: 1 - James Corden, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
A classical Italian farce set in 1960s Britain, One Man, Two Guvnors is seriously silly. The cast is lead by James Corden, best known as the co-creator and star of the British television show Gavin & Stacey. "I have to match the audience for fun," he explained to Kurt (as part of a special event for BBC America). "If they are having fun, I have to say, 'Well, I will see your fun and I will raise you more fun. And then the audience have to go, 'We have seen you having fun and we feel we can have more fun.' To the point that you never quite know where the audience stops and the play begins. And it's exhausting!"
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Awards: 2 - including Best Revival of a Musical
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks was approached by George and Ira Gershwin’s estates to turn the opera into a musical. “Right away it was very clear that these people who were singing these songs of love and passion, triumph and failure,” she told Kurt, “they deserve a story that is equal to it.” She saw her job as not to rewrite but to fill in. “Dramaturgically, there are some holes in it,” she explains. “We just added a bridge ... to provide Porgy and Bess, and the whole community actually, with a strong story arc.”
Awards: 1 - Best Play
In Bruce Norris' Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, the characters argue about race, class, and gentrification — and it’s a comedy. Norris made sure there’s no “good guy” in the play. “Audiences have this sort of childlike need to identify who their hero is in a story and to root for them and get behind them,” he says. “And one of my favorite things to do as a writer is to confound that impulse.”
Other Desert Cities
Awards: 1 - Judith Light, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
A novelist returns home to her prominent California Republican parents with the manuscript of a new book — a memoir filled with very dirty laundry. Needless to say, the reunion is tense. Kurt talks with Jon Robin Baitz about how a combination of tension, comedy, and politics has become the playwright's specialty. “We have a running joke, my brother and I,” Baitz recalls sardonically. “When he gets a new play of mine he says, ‘Do I die in this one?’”
Venus in Fur
Awards: 1 - Nina Arianda, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Venus In Fur is a play within a play: a writer has adapted an erotic novel for the stage, and he’s having a hell of a time casting the lead. Enter Vanda: a sexy, sly actress who is by turns sultry and bombastic, and pretty much takes over the show. Playing a tenacious actress comes naturally to nominee Nina Arianda. “Failure is not an option,” she tells Kurt. “There are too many people who have killed themselves to help me — parents, teachers, coaches — and it would be a real shame if I didn’t do 100% of what I could.”