Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell will receive the 2023 Isabelle Stevenson Award. The Tony Awards Administration Committee has recognized Mitchell for his dedication and contributions to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) as well as his three decades of volunteer service through the arts. The honor will be presented as part of the 76th annual ceremony on June 11 at the United Palace.
The Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award is given annually to honor the service contributions of a member of the theater community. Recipients typically volunteer time and effort to one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.
Mitchell is the creator of the “Broadway Bares” fundraiser for BC/EFA. In addition to this Isabelle Stevenson Award, Mitchell is the winner of two competitive Tony Awards for his choreography of the 2004 revival of “La Cage aux Folles” and for 2013’s “Kinky Boots” He has two dozen Broadway credits as a performer, director, choreographer and production supervisor.
In 1992, while performing in “The Will Rogers Follies,” Mitchell wanted to help those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. He rounded up his fellow dancers for a burlesque-style performance that raised $8,000 for the cause, in what became the first edition of the annual “Broadway Bares.”
To date, “Broadway Bares” has raised more than $25,000,000 for BC/EFA and has expanded to satellite organizations with a similar mission, including “San Francisco Bares,” “West End Bares” and “Italy Bares.” In addition to raising money, Mitchell’s “Broadway Bares” works to erase the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and celebrate life.
“Jerry Mitchell has galvanized thousands to step up and beyond themselves in service to their own well-being and that of the entire Broadway community,” Tom Viola, executive director of BC/EFA, said in a statement. “Jerry also has created an opportunity for all dancers to be seen, heard, supported and made welcome.”
“Jerry defines what it means to make a difference every day in a challenging world with two words: 'Full Out!'” Viola continued. “Broadway Cares is thrilled to join the Tony Awards celebration of Jerry Mitchell with this very special award.”
Mitchell began his Broadway career in the 1980 revival of “Brigadoon.” Since then, he’s amassed a résumé that includes performances in “Barnum” and “A Chorus Line” choreography of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “The Full Monty” and “Hairspray” and directorial credits like “On Your Feet!” He served as both director and choreographer of “Legally Blonde,” “Kinky Boots” and, most recently, “Pretty Woman: The Musical.”
The Tony Awards are presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. President of the Broadway League Charlotte St. Martin and president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing said of Mitchell in a joint statement: “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.”