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“A Christmas Story,” Scored by Staples Alumnus Justin Paul ’03, Nominated for Three Tonys

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Graphic by Nate Rosen

It’s certainly not uncommon for a Staples Players production to compared to a Broadway show. With this year’s Tony Award nominations, however, Players has taken Broadway—literally.

On April 30, the full list of 2013 Tony nominees was announced at Lincoln Center—and on that list with three nominations is “A Christmas Story,” a musical scored by Justin Paul ’03, a former Player. The musical, which opened for a limited Broadway run last winter, was nominated for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

Paul’s nomination is significant in Players’ history and has resonated with current Players.

“Being part of an organization that a current Tony nominee once called home is so cool,” August Laska ’13 said. “It reminds me how lucky I am to be part of such a professional and accomplished theatre group.”

Players director David Roth, who was director during three of Paul’s four years at Staples, attested to Paul’s expertise. During Players’ 2003 spring mainstage production of “Merrily We Roll Along,” according to Roth, Paul played his own piano onstage—and when he wasn’t playing leading roles, he was playing piano in the pit and then conducting the entire pit orchestra.

“Justin was incredibly talented as both a musician and a theatre artist,” Roth said. “I couldn’t be more proud. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Sylvie Lexow ’14, a current Player, recalled how this past summer, she and a group of fellow Players went to see “Dogfight,” an off-Broadway musical that Paul co-composed with Benj Pasek. After the show, Paul held a Q&A session.

“It was so cool to hear how he literally left Staples and started his career, and by like, sophomore year of college, he had his first show,” Lexow said.

This rang especially close to home for Cara McNiff ’14, instilling confidence in her for the future.

“It makes me optimistic about the future for the next generation of Players, as well as for generations to come that we’ll be lucky enough to receive such wonderful opportunities like this someday,” she said. “We are treated like such professionals to prepare us for what’s to come, and it’s extremely beneficial.”

Ultimately, as Lauren Weinberger ’13 put it, Paul’s Tony nomination is a testament to Players’ significance in a larger context.

“Justin’s Tony nomination is not only an accomplishment for Players, but for the Staples community as a whole,” she said. “It shows current students that at any age or in any facet of Staples, no matter what, if you set a goal for yourself and follow your passions, you can accomplish anything.”

Tony winners will be announced in a live broadcast on June 9 on CBS.

 

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Ben Reiser, Managing Editor

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