Sufjan Stevens
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“Illinoise” by Sufjan Stevens Earns Best Choreography Honors at 2024 Tony Awards

At the 2024 Tony Awards, the dance musical “Illinoise,” inspired by Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album “Illinois” and choreographed by Justin Peck, won the award for Best Choreography. “Illinoise” stood out against tough competition, including Annie-B Parson for “Here Lies Love,” Camille A. Brown for “Hell’s Kitchen,” Rick and Jeff Kuperman for “The Outsiders,” and the duo Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll for “Water for Elephants.” Although the show is steeped in Stevens’ tunes, the award credits the choreographic artistry rather than Stevens himself.

“Illinoise” was also a contender for Best Musical but was surpassed by “The Outsiders.” It garnered additional nominations for Best Lighting Design and Best Orchestrations, but those were snagged by Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim for “The Outsiders” and Jonathan Tunick for “Merrily We Roll Along,” respectively. During the ceremony, the “Illinoise” cast delivered a stellar performance of “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!” featuring Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond and Tasha.

After initial performances at Bard College’s Fisher Center, Park Avenue Armory, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2023, “Illinoise” made its Broadway debut in April. The show, directed and choreographed by Peck, was co-written with Pulitzer Prize winner Jackie Sibblies Drury. Peck and Stevens have been collaborators for years, joining forces on several ballet projects before.

Also in the spotlight, former Arcade Fire member Will Butler was nominated for Best Orchestrations and Best Original Score for “Stereophonic,” which, despite not winning in these categories, was awarded Best New Play and had a record 13 nominations.

The evening was also big for “Hell’s Kitchen,” a musical based on Alicia Keys’ New York upbringing, which tied with 13 nominations and bagged two awards. Keys and Jay-Z performed “Empire State of Mind” during the show, adding a memorable New York flavor to the evening.

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