Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kenny Leon

In September, Mr. Leon will direct a world premiere of ‘Every Tongue Confess’ starring Phylicia Rashad at the Arena Stage in D.C. while criss-crossing the country directing Private Practice for ABC at the same time. A familiar face on Broadway, Mr. Leon will return to direct ‘Mountaintop’ winner of London’s Olivier Award for best new play.

Named one of Financial Times “Top 20 Southerners to Watch” Kenny Leon is one of the most exciting and acclaimed Directors in American theatre today. In 2010 his hit Tony Award Broadway show ‘Fences’ garnered 10 Tony Nominations, including Best Director, the most nominations ever for a play revival, set box office records and received the Tony award for best Revival of a Play, Best Actor and Best Actress. Past Tony nominations include, his Broadway productions of ‘Radio Golf’, ‘Gem of the Ocean’ and ‘Raisin In The Sun’, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald. Mr. Leon was nominated for Best Director by the Directors Guild of America for the film version of ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ which also received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and won 3 NAACP Image Awards. He is the recipient of many awards including the Drama Leagues, the Julia Hansen Award for a lifetime of excellence in theatre, MIT Eugene McDermott Humanitarian Award as well as the Abby and Christopher Awards. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, NBC, Charlie Rose and PBS among other shows. He was also featured as People’s Magazine 50 most beautiful, and the ‘Face of Martell’s national and international advertising campaign.

Prior to founding Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, he served 11 years as Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre. Kenny’s directorial credits span an incomparable range of work, from classic theatre, to drama, to comedy, to opera, to musicals, to musical revues, to film.

Kenny served as Artistic Director of the 10-play August Wilson Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center marking the first time all ten plays were produced in repertory under one roof. Among others, he directed ‘Swimming Upstream’ with women of New Orleans and the impact of Hurricane Katrina on their lives and city, and ‘Breaking the Silence’ a United Nations event, aimed at bringing awareness to child abduction across the globe. In London he Directed Flashdance: The Musical, which toured the UK through May of 2009, and also served as Stage Director on Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” worldwide tour, which launched in the UK, toured Europe, and finished in North America. He staged the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner, featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves at the Michigan Opera House and the Auditorium here in Chicago. Margaret Garner was also produced at Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Cincinnati Opera.

He has produced works by and for all Americans, including: Disney and Elton John’s ‘Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, Alfred Uhry’s ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Pearl Cleage’s ‘Flying West and Blues For an Alabama Sky’ among others. He produces the “August Wilson Monologue competition” an annual competition currently in 5 major cities that provide workshops and training to hundreds of teenagers for competition in national finals on Broadway and is currently producing a documentary film about the importance of ‘The Arts’ in our lives.

Holding honorary doctorates from Roosevelt University, among others, Mr. Leon is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He gives workshops and has been the featured speaker for many arts organizations, corporations, universities, awards shows, political gatherings and churches, including, Aspen Ideas Festival, Yale, Northwestern, Tish, Coca-Cola, Grantmakers of America, and Association of Performing Arts in New York, to name a few.


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