Two graduates of the Miami arts high school that the Florida Legislature threatened to defund this spring won Tony Awards Sunday night at Radio City Musical Hall for their work on Broadway.
Miami’s Alex Lacamoire, a New World School of the Arts alumnus who won a Tony for helping create the music to last year’s smash hit “Hamilton,” won his third Tony Award for best orchestration for “Dear Evan Hansen,” which went on to win best new musical.
Michael Aronov, a fellow New World graduate, won the Tony Award for best featured actor in a play for his portrayal of a tough, cocky negotiator in “Oslo,” which won for best new play. And Boca Raton native Rachel Bay Jones won her first Tony for best featured actress in “Dear Evan Hansen,” which won six awards.
“Last night was an amazing celebration for the 305 and for New World School of the Arts,” Lacamoire wrote the Miami Herald on Monday. “For Michael Aronov and I to win in the same year shows how magnificent it was to grow up with an arts education in Miami.”
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This spring, Tallahassee lawmakers cut $150,000 of funding, or about a 23 percent budget cut, from the downtown Miami arts school after first threatening to revoke its $650,000 state grant entirely. The lawmakers said the school failed to provide a legally required report about how the state grants would be spent.
A public outcry followed to save funding for the school whose graduates have gone on to create award-winning films and Broadway hits, including this year’s Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” based on New World graduate Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play about growing up in Liberty City.
Lacamoire has said it was his education at New World that helped hone his talent. He was born with hearing loss and was nearly sent to a deaf school as a child before a combination of speech therapy and a love of music helped him work past his disability.
“It’s about overcoming a disability to the point where you don’t feel it’s a disability anymore,” he told the Herald last year.
Sunday’s was Lacamoire’s third Tony in three nominations, and each of the works he orchestrated went on to win best musical. He won his first best orchestration award for “In the Heights” in 2008. He also has won two Grammy awards for the cast albums of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.”
This back-to-back win for “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen” was particularly special, he said.
“I loved working on ‘Hansen,’” he said. “I’m so lucky to be part of such groundbreaking shows two years in a row.”