Jerry Mitchell to Receive 2023 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced today that Jerry Mitchell will receive the 2023 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award in recognition of his outstanding dedication and contributions to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) and for more than three decades of volunteer service through the arts.
The Isabelle Stevenson Award is presented annually to a member of the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.
When Mr. Mitchell first arrived in New York City, in the 1980’s, the AIDS epidemic had begun to take hold of the city. In 1992, Jerry wanted to help those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS the best way he knew - by putting on a show. That year, when Jerry organized his fellow Broadway dancers from The Will Rogers Follies for a burlesque performance that raised $8,000 - Broadway Bares was born. Today Broadway Bares is performed annually in New York and on the West End (where it is celebrating its 10th anniversary), as well as a satellite performance in Las Vegas. In 2020, during COVID-19, Jerry was instrumental in creating the first-ever digital edition of Broadway Bares, which raised more than half a million dollars for BC/EFA.
“It is a true honor to present Jerry Mitchell with this year’s Isabelle Stevenson Award, for his extraordinary commitment to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League and Heather Hitchens President and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “Jerry’s passion and drive for philanthropy is unparalleled and his contributions as an advocate and mentor for the LGBTQ+ and Broadway communities are immeasurable.”
For the past four decades, Mr. Mitchell has created some of the most iconic musicals to play Broadway, the West End, Toronto, Australia, Korea, Japan and Germany, including the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Kinky Boots, for which his direction was nominated and his choreography was awarded the Tony. This was his second Tony for choreography, having won previously for La Cage Aux Folles.
Starting as a dancer for Agnes de Mille on Broadway in Brigadoon, Jerry thereafter appeared in Woman Of The Year, Barnum, On Your Toes and A Chorus Line and became the associate to Michael Bennett, Bob Avian and Jerome Robbins on such of their shows as Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Scandal, Chess and Jerry’s first show on the West End, Follies. Also on the West End, Jerry has been nominated four times for Best Choreography, with three of those productions winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical—Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde and Hairspray, the latter of which he choreographed with his longtime mentor and collaborator, Director Jack O’Brien. His Broadway debut as Choreographer of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown was followed by The Full Monty (Tony nomination), The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray (Tony nomination and the NBC live television broadcast which followed), Gypsy (starring Bernadette Peters), Never Gonna Dance (Tony nomination), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination), La Cage Aux Folles (Tony Award), Imaginary Friends, Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), Catch Me If You Can. He also directed the Gloria Estefan musical, On Your Feet and directed and choreographed both Kinky Boots and most recently, Pretty Woman. Choreography for Off-Broadway includes Hedwig & The Angry Inch and Jeffrey.
For film, Jerry created memorable dance sequences for Scent Of A Woman, The Object Of My Affection, In And Out and Drop Dead Gorgeous, among others. Currently Jerry is developing a new musical based on a book entitled Becoming Nancy. And most importantly, more than 30 years ago Jerry conceived and created Broadway Bares, a comedy burlesque show performed annually for the charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which has raised over $25,000,000 to date and led to satellite organizations with similar achievements, including San Francisco Bares, West End Bares and Italy Bares, helping to erase the stigma associated with AIDS and celebrate life.