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Sheldon Harnick and Marshall W. Mason to Receive Special Tonys

Lyricist and stage director to be honored for their lifetime achievements

  • Two Northwestern alumni to be recognized for their notable contributions to the stage
  • Special honors will be bestowed during the 70th Annual Tony Awards
  • June 12 ceremony will be aired live nationally on CBS from 7 to 10 p.m. (CDT)

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Two prominent Northwestern University alumni -- Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and multiple Tony Award-winning stage director Marshall W. Mason, will be honored during the 2016 Tony Awards ceremony. 

Harnick wrote the lyrics for the hit Broadway musicals “Fiddler on the Roof” and “She Loves Me.” Mason produced dozens of new plays as the founding artistic director of New York’s Circle Repertory Company.

Harnick and Mason will each receive a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre during the 70th Annual Tony presentations. The ceremony, which will take place at the Beacon Theatre in New York, will be aired live nationally on the CBS Television Network from 7 to 10 p.m. (CDT) Sunday, June 12. 

This year’s event will be hosted by Tony Award-winning English actor and comedian James Corden, weeknight host of CBS television’s weeknight program, “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

Tony Awards 

The Tony Awards honor theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway. They are presented annually by The Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway theatre industry, and the American Theatre Wing, a service organization that champions and honors American theatre through educational programs and the distribution of financial grants and awards each year. 

Lyricist Sheldon Harnick 

  • Two-time Tony Award-winning lyricist Harnick was born and raised in Chicago and studied violin as a child. After serving a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music in 1949. Harnick also was a skilled writer of comedy sketches, songs and parody lyrics before he became a theatrical lyricist in New York. He later merged his talents with composer Jerry Bock to create their own successful musicals, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opened in 1964. Another of the duo’s Broadway hits was “Fiorello,” a 1959 musical biography of New York’s legendary mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, a reform Republican who took on the Tammany Hall political machines. “Fiorello” went on to earn a Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Their other collaborations included “Tenderloin” (1960), “She Loves Me” (1963), “The Apple Tree” (1966) and “The Rothschilds” (1970). More information on Harnick is available online.

Director Marshall W. Maso

  • Mason, a Texas native, received a bachelor’s degree in speech from Northwestern’s School of Communication in 1961. His 44-year working relationship with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson has been certified by Playbill magazine as “the longest collaboration between a writer and director in the history of the American Theater.” Mason directed a dozen plays on Broadway that earned him five Tony nominations for Best Director: “Knock Knock” by Jules Feiffer, “Talley’s Folly” (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize), “Fifth of July” and “Angels Fall” by Lanford Wilson, and “As Is” by William M. Hoffman (Drama Desk Award for Best Play). Four of his productions received Tony Awards with 24 nominations. He has been honored for discovering and nourishing new talent and for cultivating new writers. Mason was elected to the Theater Hall of Fame in 2015 and was the chief drama critic for the New Times in Phoenix for two years. He also is the author of “Creating Life on Stage: A Director's Approach to Working with Actors” (Heinemann Press, 2006) and “The Transcendent Years of Circle Rep.”

More information on both special Tony Award recipients is available online.

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