Actors’ Equity Association presented the ensemble of the 2019 Tony-winning musical Hadestown with the thirteenth annual ACCA Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus on June 18, 2019 during Equity’s National Council meeting in New York.
Presented by Equity’s Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA), the ACCA Award is the only industry accolade of its kind to honor the distinctive talents and contributions made by the original chorus members of a Broadway musical.
The nine individual recipients of the 2019 ACCA Award – all of whom were part of the Hadestown chorus on the musical’s April 17, 2019 Broadway opening night – are Malcolm Armwood, Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, John Krause, Kimberly Marable, T. Oliver Reid, Jessie Shelton, Ahmad Simmons and Khaila Wilcoxon.
Hadestown was the big winner at The American Theatre Wing’s 73rd Annual Tony Awards taking home eight awards including Best Musical, Best Director for Rachel Chavkin, Best Score for Anais Mitchell, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for André De Shields, Best Scenic Design for Rachel Hauck, Best Lighting Design for Bradley King, Best Sound Design for Jessica Paz and Nevin Steinberg, and Best Orchestrations for Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose.
“When I saw Hadestown, I was transfixed by the chorus, said Jennifer Cody, 2nd Vice President and ACCA Chair.
“I believe they are pivotal to the storytelling. I think they are the emotional journey of Hadestown. How would the metaphor of Hell as a factory floor actually work without seeing the inhumanity of slave labor? What makes this ensemble so special is their ability to transform throughout the show. In some scenes, the chorus is asked to move as a unit, five actors representing a uniform emotion. And then the scene changes and this shadowy singular unit that we saw in the last scene becomes five completely individual performers, each with their own thoughts and back story and emotion. You basically tell the audience how we feel and how we got where we are. They lead us from the highs of Persephone’s garden party to the lows and depths of hell. The costumes don’t change, the set doesn’t change. The only thing that changes is the ensemble’s perception. I was especially transfixed by the Tony performance. The simple fact that at the same time the ensemble acts as physical barriers that block the path to hell, they wear headlamps and literally light the way. They are the metaphor. They are the theme. They physicalize what happens when we give up our individuality to be taken care of. I think they are Hadestown. The casting directors called you unicorns. I think Hadestown found the perfect catch with their ensemble.”
In reviewing the chorus of each Broadway musical that opened in the 2018-2019 theatrical season, ACCA considered the chorus requirements made by each production’s director, choreographer and musical director; the caliber of technical skill used to execute those requirements; and the unique contributions made by the entire chorus to the overall production. Members of the ACCA, all of whom have worked on a chorus contract and have seen all of the ACCA-nominated musicals during the season, cast their vote for the winning chorus.
Past recipients of the ACCA award are the original chorus members of Legally Blonde (2007), In the Heights (2008), West Side Story (2009), Fela! (2010), The Scottsboro Boys (2011), Newsies (2012), Pippin (2013), Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (2014), An American in Paris (2015), Shuffle Along, Or The Making Of The Musical Sensation Of 1921 And All That Followed (2016), Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (2017) and Once on This Island (2018).
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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