Baayork Lee, a director, actress and choreographer who played Connie Wong in the original 1975 production of A Chorus Line, will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award at this year’s ceremony on June 11. The award, announced this morning, is presented annually to a member of the theater community “who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations,” according to the Tony Administration Committee, citing Lee’s “commitment to future generations of artists through her work with the National Asian Artists Project and theater education programs around the world.”
“Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatre goers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theatre professionals to do the same is exemplary. We are thrilled to honor her this year,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said. The League and the Wing jointly produce the Tonys. Stevenson was an ex-vaudeville dancer who headed the Wing, a Broadway service organization, for several decades until her death in 2003.
Lee is best known for creating the role of Connie, as well as serving as director-choreographer Michael Bennett’s assistant choreographer on the production. Subsequently, she staged many national and international companies, most recently in Klagenfurt, Austria; Santiago, Chile; the Hollywood Bowl; and Pace University in New York City. Her other directing and choreography credits include classics in the musical theater canon, presented in major venues around the country. Lee is the Founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), which is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders and professionals who work to showcase the work of Asian-American theater artists through performance, educational programming and community outreach.
Last week, the Tony Administration Committee announced that veteran general managers Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser will receive this year’s Tony Awards’ Honors for Excellence in the Theatre.