Tonight, four-time Tony nominee Michael Grief has been nominated for Best Direction of a Musical.
The illustrious director has a number of impressive credits under his belt, including Rent and Next to Normal, and has the awards to prove it. Not only has he received three Obies (one for Special Citations and another for Direction), but at this year’s Drama’s League Award, he was awarded the Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Directing.
Read on to learn more about Michael Greif.
1. He Is the Director Of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
Greif is the director of Dear Evan Hansen, which is up for nine awards at the Tonys tonight.
He’s been with the show since it’s inception– Greif directed the premiere at Washington DC’s Arena Stage in 2015, and directed once again when it moved Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater in 2016.
Last year, he spoke to Broadway Direct about how he came to be director. Greif explains that he interviewed for the job and was “really fortunate to get it.” He tells the outlet, “It’s wonderful to go through an interview process because, by the time you start working, you’ve already made connections with the writers and can proceed with confidence that everyone sees the piece in the same way.”
2. He Is a Four-Time Tony Nominee
Tonight isn’t the first time Greif has been up for a Tony. In 1996, he was nominated for Best Direction of a Musical for Rent. In 2007, he was up for the same award for Grey Gardens and in 2009, he once again received a nomination for Best Direction for Next to Normal.
3. ‘Rent’ Marked His Broadway Directorial Debut
In 1996, Greif made his Broadway Directorial Debut with Rent, which is one of nine musicals to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 2011, the director brought Rent back to the off-Broadway stage with an all-new cast. Speaking about its revival to Playbill, he said, “Over the years that I’ve watched the show, there were things I wanted to change… When we did it internationally or for tours, I made changes. This seemed like a chance for an overhaul.”
Greif’s many off-Broadway credits include Our Lady of Kibeho, Landscape of the Body, A Few Stout Individuals, Romeo and Juliet, Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, and Beauty of the Father.
4. He Studied at Northwestern University
Greif received his BS from Northwestern University, and his MFA from the University of California, San Diego.
From 1994 to 1999, he was also the Artistic Director of the La Jolla Playhouse.
5. He Has Spoken Expensively About His Experiences Working With Tony Nominee Ben Platt
Given the amount of press he’s received lately, it’s unsurprising that Greif has been asked about his experiences working with Ben Platt.
The director has had only positive things to say about the 23-year-old. In an interview last month with Deadline, Greif said, “From the very beginning, his instincts were sensational and he was very helpful to all of us in seeing where the play could go. He understood the relationship of humor to seriousness. He found the truth in Evan’s humor and I think it helped inspire Steven [Levenson, author of the show’s book] to continue to find that humor.”