The American Theatre Critics Association proposed to the American
Theatre Wing in 1976 that professional, nonprofit regional theatre
companies should earn Tony Award recognition. Every year since then, the
awards program honors a regional company that
has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement in
contributing to the growth of theatre on a national level.
The Playhouse’s win in 2004 marks the first time an Ohio professional theatre company received a Tony Award. In June of that year, Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern and Executive Director Buzz Ward accepted the award in New York on the theatre’s
behalf. They returned the next day to Cincinnati, where Playhouse staff, Board members and community members each passed the Tony Award hand-to-hand towards the stage — symbolizing how the award belonged to everyone, as well as the city of Cincinnati.
In a feature article with CityBeat, Stern told reporter Rick Pender, “The best thing for me with the Tony was how this community received it. It wasn’t about congratulating Ed Stern. It was, ‘Isn’t it great what we did?’”
Ward added in the same article, “It really took all of us, everyone working in the same direction, to even get to the level of consideration.”
The ceremony at the Playhouse had about 500 people in the audience, and the cast of Sing Hallelujah!, who had been performing in the Sheltherhouse Theatre, entertained the crowd with a performance of “The Best is Yet to Come.” Even more festivities
followed when the Playhouse hosted a special open house event in August, in which subscribers and community members could see the Tony Award up close, get a tour of Playhouse memories and history over the years, and celebrate the opening of the 45th