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Northwestern alum Katrina Lenk wins Tony for Best Actress in ‘The Band’s Visit’

Bienen graduate majored in viola and studied voice and music theater
Bienen graduate Katrina Lenk is the 2018 Tony Award winner for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical.

EVANSTON - Northwestern University alumna Katrina Lenk last night (June 10) won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for “The Band’s Visit.” The production swept the Tony Awards winning 10 awards including best new musical.

Lenk studied viola and voice in the School of Music and completed the School of Communication’s Music Theatre Certificate Program (MTCP). She also participated in the Waa-Mu and Dolphin shows.

Kurt Hansen, a senior lecturer in voice and opera at Bienen School of Music, recalled Lenk’s time as a Northwestern student.

“As a MTCP student, Katrina studied voice with me, but what made her unusual was that she was not a theater major. She was, in fact, a viola major who auditioned for and was accepted into the MTCP during emeritus theater professor Dominic Missimi’s tenure,” Hansen said.

“Katrina was amongst a small minority of students that Dominic included in the program who were neither voice nor theater majors. I learned to value his sense that certain students had the talent to be encouraged in all areas of performance.”  

Lenk originated the role of sultry cafe owner Dina in “The Band’s Visit” for the Atlantic Theater Company’s off-Broadway production, which later opened at the Barrymore Theatre for its Broadway run.

“The Band’s Visit” was adapted from the 2007 film by Itamar Moses, with music composed by David Yazbek and stage direction by David Cromer. The production tells the story of an Egyptian band stuck overnight in a small Israeli desert town, and despite language barriers, both strangers and hosts find deep connection through music.

Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the production “a ravishing musical that whispers with romance” and described Lenk’s turn as a “star-making performance.”

Lenk’s Broadway credits include “Indecent,” “Once,” “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and “The Miracle Worker.” She has appeared regionally and off-Broadway at Steppenwolf Theatre (“Lost Land” with Martha Lavey ’79, ’86, ’94 and John Malkovich) Vineyard Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse and Yale Rep (“Indecent”). Television credits include “The Good Fight,” “The Get Down” and “The Blacklist.” Lenk is co-creator of the comedy web series “Miss Teri” and is a member of several bands including her own band, moxy phinx.

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.