Ask 'Mimi' June 15, 2014

Ask 'Mimi' June 15, 2014

Did you watch the Tony Awards on TV? Were there any winners from around here?

Yes. I enjoyed it more than I had expected. Host Hugh Jackman is the man.

As for local winners, no, but there were plenty of local connections:

University of Illinois theater alum Jason Dirden is in "Raisin in the Sun" — it won best revival. His brother, Brandon, is Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranston as LBJ in "All the Way"; Cranston won for lead actor in a play.

Broadway legend Audra McDonald picked up her sixth Tony, a record, for lead actress in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." She performed at Krannert Center last fall.

The Tony "memoriam" segment, which honors theater folks who died the previous year, played only in the auditorium during a commercial break. Among those remembered: four-time Tony winner Michael Filerman, a 1960 UI alumnus. Before he died Jan. 25, the film, TV and theater writer-producer donated to the UI Playbills from more than 1,300 stage productions he had seen 1953-2009. He also established an endowed scholarship in the theater department.

And trombonist/UI music Prof Jim Pugh of Mahomet played in the Tony pit orchestra. He has enjoyed that annual gig for more than two decades.

Will the Virginia Theatre have its annual Ice Cream and Independence event to celebrate the Fourth this year?

Yes, but it will be TCBY frozen yogurt rather than ice cream, served at 5 p.m. July 3. The concert at 7 will feature the C-U Civic Wind Band and the Canadian Brass, one of the world's top brass quintets, here for a three-day residency on the UI campus. French horn professor Bernhard Scully is a member. Tickets for reserved seating range from $8 to $40 for VIPs. Call 356-9063 or go to

Did zydeco queen Rosie Ledet cancel her gig at the Blues Brews and BBQ Festival June 27 & 28 in Champaign?

Yes. Her manager wanted to book her elsewhere but was unable, so she was pulled and replaced with Rick Estrin & the Nightcats. Estrin received the Blues Foundation's 2013 best harmonica player award. Other major acts are Buckwheat Zydeco, Nikki Hill, Albert Cummings and Curtis Salgado. There also will be an area for families, with Scovill Zoo's animals 4:30-6:30 p.m. June 28 and youth acts from around the state. Admission to the fest is free; a $5 donation is suggested. The festival seeks volunteers to help at the front gates and behind the beer tent; if interested, email or call 359-6960, Ext. 4.

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