HADESTOWN’s Malcolm Armwood, Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, John Krause, Kimberly Marable, T. Oliver Reid, Jessie Shelton, Ahmad Simmons and Khaila Wilcoxon Receive 2019 ACCA Awards for Outstanding Broadway Chorus

Eva Noblezada and the company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang
Ahmad Simmons, Afra Hines, John Krause, Eva Noblezada, Kimberly Marable, Timothy Hughes and Reeve Carney in HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

2019 ACCA Award winners Malcolm Armwood, Afra Hines, John Hughes, Jessie Shelton Ahmad Simmons and Khailia Wilcoxon (not pictured – Timothy Hughes and T. Oliver Reid). Photo by Lia Chang

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.

Reclining: 2019 Tony winner André De Shields. Row 1: Duncan Stewart, David Neumann, John Krause, Jessie Shelton, Benton Whitley. Row 2: Eva Noblezada, Kimberly Marable, Reeve Carney, Ahmad Simmons, Khaila Wilcoxon, Afra Hines, Malcolm Armwood, Kay Trinidad, 2019 Tony winner Mara Isaacs, Beverly Edwards, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

Jennifer Cody, 2nd Vice President and ACCA Chair, Casting directors Benton Whitley and Duncan Stewart. Photo by Lia Chang

“When I saw Hadestown, I was transfixed by the chorus, said Jennifer Cody, 2nd Vice President and ACCA Chair.

Chorus members of HADESTOWN: (standing) Kimberly Marable, Ahmad Simmons, Khaila Wilcoxon, Afra Hines, Jessie Shelton & Malcolm Armwood; (kneeling) John Krause (not pictured Timothy Hughes and T. Oliver Reid). Photo by Lia Chang

“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.”

Tony nominated choreographer David Neumann with his 2019 ACCA Award winning ensemble – counterclockwise: Afra Hines, John Krause, Malcolm Armwood, Ahmad Simmons, Kimberly Marable, Jessie Shelton and Khaila Wilcoxon. (not pictured: Timothy Hughes and T. Oliver Reid. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

David Neumann, Khaila Wilcoxon, Afra Hines, Ahmad Simmons, John Krause, Equity Executive Director Mary McColl, Malcolm Armwood, Kimberly Marable, Jessie Shelton and 2019 Tony winner André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

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).

2019 Tony winning Producer Mara Isaacs with casting directors Benton Whitley and Duncan Stewart. Photo by Lia Chang
David Neumann, Khaila Wilcoxon, Afra Hines, Ahmad Simmons, John Krause, Equity Executive Director Mary McColl, Malcolm Armwood, Kimberly Marable, Jessie Shelton. Photo by Lia Chang
2019 Tony winner André De Shields and Tony nominee David Neumann. Photo by Lia Chang
Khaila Wilcoxon, Afra Hines, Ahmad Simmons, John Krause, Equity Executive Director Mary McColl, Malcolm Armwood, Kimberly Marable, Jessie Shelton. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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