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La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Reacts To Tony Win

Christopher Ashley poses in the press room with the award for best direction of a musical for "Come From Away" at the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017.
Associated Press
Christopher Ashley poses in the press room with the award for best direction of a musical for "Come From Away" at the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017.
La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Reacts To Tony Win
La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Reacts To Tony Win GUEST: Christopher Ashley, artistic director, La Jolla Playhouse

I am Allison St. John and for Maureen Cavanaugh and you were listening to KPBS Midday Edition . There has been a spotlight on San Diego theater community this past week. In a moment we will speak with any claim Doctor Robert Sean Leonard who is in a new performance at the globe. First we will hear from the La Jolla Playhouse is Christopher Ashley who won a Tony for the musical come from away on Sunday. I want to start by thanking the La Jolla Playhouse. I guess most of all I would like to accept this on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and all of the first responders and their families in New York on 9/11. It tells the story of the people of the small Canadian town of Gander who sheltered friend -- thousands of stranded airline passenger on September 11. We spoke with Beth Sacramento about the award. So you just won the Tony award for come from away. Are you surprised that this was the play that one for you? I was as surprised as it is possible to be. I am really proud of it but there is so much amazing work this season and so many beautiful productions I did not think that was when we were going to win. Do you think the theme of it may have one people over at this particular time? There is something about the story that is universal. It is a story taking place during 911 when America closed its airspace and 7000 passengers was granted in a tiny town in Newfoundland. And the kindness of the people in that town and the generosity was extraordinary. I think at this particular moment a story of kindness and generosity to strangers is particularly on point. This is your first Tony award but if the nominated two other times. It was also nominated for Memphis my first show I ever directed at La Jolla Playhouse and also for Rocky horror show. The Playhouse also got two other Tony awards on Sunday for indecent. This debuted at the Playhouse. Do you think there's anything special about it and why it works so well developing shows like this that can move on to Broadway. I do. I am biased but I think the staff and audiences are fiercely invested in making new plays and the musicals and the care and intelligence and passion that goes into it shows on stage. It's in our mission statement. We aspire to be a safe harbor for unsafe work. Do you think that kind of attitude is helpful in developing these kinds of new place. I think you have to be fearless. When you do something new you have to have a high risk tolerance because he never know how it will turn out. You have to develop an audience like we are lucky enough to have that is at the birth of something unexpected. This is our third season with all new plays and musicals. We are trying to walk the walk. Remind us a bit of the back story. Should -- David and Irene went to these events and interviewed that is the word for the people who were stranded that week. Maybe two years after that they had a first draft that I saw because Donna her role was on a panel that selected reading place and she walked into my office and said I'm not leaving until you read this and love it. You are currently working on escaped Margaritaville and that is something potentially headed to Broadway. Correct? It is it has four more weeks of its run at has four more weeks and is scheduled to go to New Orleans and it just announced it states and put tickets on sale for a run beginning in early March and the Marquis theater on Broadway. When you're looking at place like escaped Margaritaville and come from away what kind of things are you looking for that appeal to you and make you want to look into a project. I guess I care that the authors have their own voice and are telling a story that feels authentic and is emotionally involving and it feels like it is a good story to tell right now I really care about what is happening in the world and the stories that the artist have to talk You have just one year first Tony. La Jolla Playhouse has had some outstanding players. You're having a great year and San Diego is facing some potential cuts to arts funding. How do you feel about this and what do you feel can be done to kind of remind people of the value of arts in San Diego. I have really been impressed by how quickly and thoroughly the people that support the arts stood up and made a case for the importance and necessity of arts and a full life. You know the national endowment for the arts has been really vulnerable and a lot of current budget -- budgets for the federal government and they have talked about doing away with it. San Diego has a real history of supporting the arts at the city and County level. Everyone at the La Jolla Playhouse and every person who works the -- and the arts that I know has spoken full throated the and said the arts matter and they are part of our understanding the world and government support of the arts is crucial to this moment and how important it is not to step back from it You have been there for 10 years. I have to say getting a Tony award this year seems like a perfect kind of capital that the I love the 10 year plan. It is an excellent one. Is there anything you have not done yet at the Playhouse you are hoping to get to in the next 10 years. I am so excited about the without walls program. We are about to have our third festival of site-specific work. Our program that does not happen inside the theater we are going to do it for the first time in downtown San Diego this fall. I'm very excited about that. I feel like our Playhouse on the staff the audience and board are really hitting their stride in such an extraordinary way. As an audience member of the Playhouse I am so excited about the work that is coming up. We've already announced for next year for escaped Margaritaville they played last season that would open on Broadway Thank you very much and congratulations. My pleasure.

La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Reacts To Tony Win
Christopher Ashley took home his first Tony Award Sunday for directing “Come From Away,” a musical about the small Canadian town of Gander, which sheltered thousands of airline passengers stranded after their planes were diverted on 9/11.

The La Jolla Playhouse was a big winner at Sunday’s Tony Awards. Two plays that debuted at the Playhouse took home top honors.

Artistic director Christopher Ashely took home his first Tony Award for directing “Come From Away,” a musical about the small Canadian town of Gander, which sheltered thousands of airline passengers stranded after their planes were diverted on 9/11.

Rebecca Taichman also won a directors Tony for the play, “Indecent”.

The La Jolla Playhouse has ushered 28 shows to Broadway.

RELATED: Christopher Ashley Celebrates 10th Anniversary At La Jolla Playhouse

Ashley discussed Wednesday on Midday Edition what this award means to him and for the San Diego theater community.