‘A Strange Loop,’ Produced by Alumna Barbara Whitman ’05 Wins Pulitzer Prize
BY Robbie Armstrong, May 8, 2020
A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson and produced by Theatre Management and Producing alumna Barbara Whitman ’05 won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last week. This marks the second time Whitman’s production has been awarded a Pulitzer, following the musical Next To Normal which won in 2010. Professor David Henry Hwang and Barnard alumna Jeanine Tesori ’83 also received a 2020 Pulitzer Prize nomination for their original musical Soft Power, which launched its cast recording in April, and received a whopping 11 Drama Desk Award nominations.
The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 by Joseph Pulitzer and recognizes achievements in journalism, literature, drama, and music composition. Awards are administered by Columbia University and the Prize for Drama is selected by a panel of four theatre critics and one academic. A Strange Loop makes history as the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama following an Off Broadway production, without a Broadway production. The show is the 10th musical to win the award.
A Strange Loop follows Usher who is a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical. Michael R. Jackson’s blistering, momentous new musical follows a young artist at war with a host of demons—not least of which, the punishing thoughts in his own head—in an attempt to capture and understand his own strange loop.
Whitman is a Tony award winning producer who made her Broadway debut producing A Raisin in the Sun. Other Broadway credits include Red, 33 Variations, Mary Stuart, Legally Blonde, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hands on a Hardbody, 1984, Angels In America, Burn This, Fun Home, and Oh Hello. Her upcoming musical Diana was set to open this season, prior to the COVID-19 cancellation.
Whitman and the team of A Strange Loop are planning a developmental lab and potentially a future production. The cast album is available for purchase and streaming.