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Alex Edelman and more named recipients of special 2024 Tony Awards

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Nikiya Mathis and more will also be recognized.

Alex Edelman in “Just for Us,” Broadway, 2023 (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

The Tony Awards has announced its 2024 slate of non-competitive honorees. Wendall K. Harrington, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Judith O. Rubin, the Dramatists Guild Foundation and the Friedman Health Center will receive Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. Alex Edelman, Abe Jacob and Nikiya Mathis will be honored with Special Awards.

“It is a pleasure to present the 2024 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre to five unsung heroes doing invaluable work behind the scenes in the theater community,” said Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, in a statement. “Wendall K. Harrington’s projection design masterpieces; Colleen Jennings-Roggensack’s unwavering dedication to promoting artists and advancing equity, diversity, inclusion and access in the theater; Judith O. Rubin’s passionate advocacy for culture; the Dramatists Guild Foundation’s life-changing support to theater writers; and the Friedman Health Center’s commitment to the wellness of the community have been pivotal to the success of countless productions and we are thrilled they are getting the recognition they deserve with this special honor.”

“We are honored to present three extraordinary individuals with Special Tony Awards,” said Jason Laks, Interim President of the Broadway League. “Alex Edelman had an exemplary debut in ‘Just for Us,’ a show that was as moving as it was hilarious and spoke to the power of communication, identity and empathy at a time when it is needed more than ever. Abe Jacob is a true pioneer of theater sound design who created the modern approach to theatrical sound design and has contributed his unique and irreplaceable sound to each of his productions for decades. Nikiya Mathis has transformed the approach to hair and wig design and hair maintenance in our theaters and her incredible work was rightly the centerpiece of this season’s incredible ‘Jaja’s African Hair Braiding.’ We salute these esteemed members of our community as we award them with this special distinction.”

The work of projection designer Harrington has been seen on Broadway for decades. Harrington’s projection design for the original production of “The Who’s Tommy” won a 1993 Drama Desk Award. Other Broadway credits include “They’re Playing Our Song,” “My One and Only,” “The Heidi Chronicles,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Ragtime,’ “Grey Gardens,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and more. Harrington heads the projection design program at Yale University.

Jennings-Roggensack serves as vice president for cultural affairs at Arizona State University and executive director of ASU Gammage, the 60-year-old Tempe venue which presents national tours. A longtime member of the Broadway League, Jennings-Roggensack currently serves as vice chair of road of the League’s Board of Governors. Jennings-Roggensack holds tenures on the Broadway Green Alliance, the diversity initiative of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers, Black Theatre United summit and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundations’s creative connections. She is the 2023 recipient of the League’s distinguished service award.

Rubin is the current board chair of Playwrights Horizons, a board on which she has served for over three decades. Rubin has also served tenures on the National Council for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. She’s also been a member of several advisory commissions and boards, including the Tony Awards Administration Committee and the American Theatre Wing. Rubin is a trustee of Mount Sinai Health System and its School of Medicine, and has been involved in numerous other organizations such as the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation and Public Radio International. She was also a commissioner for protocol for the City of New York during the Dinkins administration. This June, Rubin will step down as board chair of Playwrights Horizons after a 32-year tenure.

Dramatists Guild Foundation (DGF) is a national charity that fuels the future of American theater by supporting the writers and composers who create it. Alan Jay Lerner founded the organization in 1962. Beginning with Gretchen Cryer’s Presidency in 2005, DGF began a period of growth to help more and more writers. In addition to emergency grants, one of the foundation’s most acclaimed programs, DGF Fellows, was developed by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Janet Neipris and Susan Miller, and shepherded for the last decade by Michael Korie.

The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts is the medical care provider for New York City’s entertainment community. Operated in partnership with the Entertainment Community Fund and Mount Sinai Doctors and conveniently located in Times Square, the Friedman Health Center is the only health center in NYC solely focused on the particular health care needs of those who work in performing arts and entertainment. It offers primary and specialty care, expedited referrals within the Mount Sinai Health System, extended hours and continuity of care for those who experience regular changes in health insurance coverage.

Edelman is known for his TV writing and solo shows. His Broadway debut with “Just for Us” in 2023 led to a MAX release after runs Off-Broadway and worldwide. His first solo show, “Millennial,” won the 2014 Edinburgh Comedy Award. Edelman appears in Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix film “Unfrosted” and is developing a movie with A24. His debut nonfiction offering, “I Don’t Belong Here,” was sold to Avid Reader. He’s the creator and host of “Peer Group” for BBC Radio 4 and served as head writer and executive producer of “Saturday Night Seder,” raising $3.5 million for the CDC Foundation.

Jacob started with McCune Sound in San Francisco and went on to create concert sound for such legendary artists as Jimi Hendrix; The Mamas and the Papas; Peter, Paul and Mary; and the the Monterey Pop Festival. He then brought that rock sensibility to Broadway audiences with the original production of “Hair.” Jacob’s achievements in theater sound design virtually brought the field into existence. His major Broadway, touring and worldwide production credits include “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Pippin,” “The Who’s Tommy” and many more. In 2022, he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. Jacob also teaches sound design master classes and has mentored several generations of talented sound designers, many of whom are Broadway theatrical sound designers today.

As a designer, Mathis contributed to this past season with her work on the Tony-nominated “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” by Jocelyn Bioh. Other Broadway credits include “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” “Uncle Vanya” and “Once Upon a One More Time.” She is currently designing the Broadway revival of “Home.” Mathis is the recipient of the Kathy A Perkins Behind the Curtain Award from Black Women on Broadway, an Obie Award, a Henry Hewes Award, two Broadway Black Awards and a Drama Desk nomination. She also teaches hair/wig master classes to acting and design students at top universities including NYU Tisch Grad Acting and Grad Design, Yale and Princeton.

The 77th Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, will air live from the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on June 16 at 8:00 p.m. on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.