How Does Illinois Rate Among States Producing Recent Tony Award Winners?

Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

On Sunday, June 11, the 76th annual Tony awards show recognized outstanding achievement in the theatrical arts.

Using the Tony Award Winner Masterlist, IllinoisBet.com – your home for Illinois sports betting coverage – determined how many Best Actor/Actress (in Leading, Feature, Musical, and Play subcategories) awardees hailed from each state from 2013 to 2023.

As it turns out, Illinois has given star power to the lights on Broadway for a long time.

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Tony Award Winners By State

State No. of Winners
California11
New York8
Illinois6
New Jersey5
Maryland3
Pennsylvania3
Michigan3
South Carolina2
Missouri2
Texas2
Virginia2
Colorado2
Oklahoma2
Kansas2
Maine1
North Carolina1
Ohio1
Florida1
New Mexico1
Georgia1
Connecticut1
Rhode Island1
Arizona1
Wisconsin1
Hawaii1
Minnesota1

Illinois Produces Major Theater Talent

It would be no surprise that California and New York produced more Tony Award winners than any others. However, Illinois takes no backseat, just as its Illinois sportsbook apps are among the nation’s leaders as well.

The Land of Lincoln has produced six Tony winners for their performances in stage productions, behind only California with 11 winners and New York with eight, during the stretch of years from 2013 through 2023.

Among those Illinois Tony winners, none has had a more decorated career than Carbondale native and Illinois State University alumna Laurie Metcalf.

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Laurie Metcalf Has Armful of Awards

Television watchers might best recognize Metcalf as the sister of the title character in Rosanne Barr’s TV comedy series.

However, Metcalf has taken home two Tony Awards (from six nominations) as well and won four Prime Time Emmy Awards – three for her work in Roseanne and most recently in 2022 for her performance in the comedy Hacks.

Metcalf’s distinguished acting career includes nominations for the Academy Award, British Academy Film Award, Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG).

Her Tony awards were for her roles in A Doll’s House, Part 2 (2017), Best Leading Actress in a Play, and Three Tall Women (2018), Best Featured Actress in a Play.

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Other Distinguished Stars From Illinois

Another familiar face to TV audiences, Sean Hayes, won a Tony for portraying a real-life character from the early days of the small-screen, Oscar Levant in Good Night, Oscar (2022), Best Leading Actor in a Play. Hayes, from Evergreen Park, attended Illinois State and famously portrayed the popular character Jack MacFarland on the comedy Will & Grace.

For his role as Jack, Hayes won a Prime Time Emmy as well as Golden Globe and SAG Awards. Hayes also hosted the 64th Tony Awards in 2010 and won an Emmy for that work.

Katrina Lenk, from Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University, had a recurring role on the critically acclaimed crime series Ozark playing pharmaceutical company executive Clare Shaw.

However, on Broadway, Lenk originated the role of Dina in the musical The Band's Visit (2018), for which she won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. She has also won a Grammy and a Daytime Emmy.

Jessie Mueller, from Evanston and a Syracuse University graduate, began her career in Chicago, worked in the Windy City for about six years, and was honored by the Chicago Tribune.

In 2011, she moved to New York and went on to win a Tony for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2014), Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, portraying Carole King. The next year, she was nominated for a Tony for Waitress and nominated again in 2017 for Carousel.

Bonnie Milligan, who was born in Macon County before eventually moving to Ohio, won her Tony Award for the musical Kimberly Akimbo (2023), Best Featured Actress in a Musical, as Aunt Debra.

Lauren Patten, from Downers Grove, made her professional debut at age 14 in A Christmas Carol at Chicago’s Goodman Theater. Her Tony Award was for Jagged Little Pill (2020), a jukebox musical, Best Featured Actress, as Jo Taylor.

Author

Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for IllinoisBet.com. He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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