Skip to content

5 minutes with a Tony nominee: ‘Water for Elephants’’ Jessica Stone

The director uncovers the process of creating an intimate story in a sweeping spectacle and the challenges of putting a circus on a Broadway stage.

Jessica Stone (Credit: Dimitrious Kambouris/Getty Images)

The 2023-2024 Broadway season has been a boon for women directors. Not only were more productions helmed by women this season compared to recent ones, but the directors broke records with their Tony Award nominations. One of those is Jessica Stone.

Stone celebrated her Broadway directorial debut last season with “Kimberly Akimbo,” for which she earned a Best Direction of a Musical Tony nomination (the show won Best Musical). Now, Stone is nominated for her direction of “Water for Elephants,” which is also a contender for Best Musical.

The stage adaptation of the eponymous novel by Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants” tells the story of a man who runs away with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth — so the show blends musical theater and circus arts. Stone hadn’t worked in the circus medium before, but her vision for the show is clear and the execution is thrilling.

In this interview, Stone shares details about the show’s unconventional development — including her own learning curve with regards to circus. She also explains why “Water for Elephants” needed to be a memory play and how she envisioned the aesthetic for this daring new musical.

Introductory Offer

$1/month for 6 months


Already have an account? Log in