Honor Comes as Leon Prepares to Direct Hairspray Live! on NBC
Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon just added two new honors to his growing list of achievements. The Clark Atlanta University alumnus recently earned the prestigious 2016-2017 “Mr. Abbott” Award for outstanding artistry and creativity during his more than 40-year career. The award is presented by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation in memory of the late renowned director George Abbott. “This award singularly places Kenny Leon in an exclusive club,” said Dr. Cleo House, chair of CAU’s Department of Speech Communication and Theatre
Arts. “He is now a member of the directing pantheon. His name is now synonymous with greats such as Bob Fosse, LLyod Richards and George C. Wolfe! To receive this honor when his career appears to just be heating up means even more. What makes the award even more meaningful is that Kenny was chosen for it by his peers, fellow professional directors or choreographers, who have achieved significant success in show business. Naturally, we are extremely proud to have him associated with our University. It really does reflect the power of following and staying true to your passions.”
Leon will officially receive the “Mr. Abbott” Award during a ceremony in New York in March 2017. “I am very happy that the SDC Foundation is honoring Kenny Leon with this year’s ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award,” said Pam MacKinnon, president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers. “His long and varied career, as an important artist and producer as well as educator, mentor and celebrated director, is an inspiration.”
The honor comes just weeks before Leon is set to direct “Hairspray Live!” on NBC Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. This marks the second-time Leon has directed a live musical on NBC. In his live musical TV debut in 2015, Leon directed the wildly successful “The Wiz Live!”, which drew a record-breaking audience of 11.1 million viewers, NBC’s second most watched live musical event, according to CNN.
Leon is world-renowned for his directing abilities. His Broadway credits include the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun (for which he won two Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play and Best Revival), The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, and August Wilson’s Fences (which netted 10 Tony nominations and earned three Tony Awards).