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Santino Fontana Wins Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical

June 10, 2019

Santino Fontana

Santino Fontana
Santino Fontana

Santino Fontana (BFA Acting '04) received the 2019 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in "Tootsie" on Broadway. He was nominated for the same award in 2013 for his role as Prince Topher in "Cinderella" on Broadway. His other stage credits include originating the role of Tony in "Billy Elliott the Musical" on Broadway, "Sunday in the Park with George" on Broadway, "Hamlet" at the Guthrie Theater, and many more. Beyond Broadway, he voiced the role of Prince Hans in the Walt Disney Animations movie "Frozen" and portrayed Greg Serrano in the hit television series "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend".

"Tootsie" is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Robert Horn. The musical is based on the 1982 American comedy film of the same name written by Larry Gelbart, Barry Levinson (uncredited), Elaine May (uncredited) and Murray Schisgal from the story by Gelbart and Don McGuire. Like the film, the musical tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman in order to land a job. The original movie revolved around a daytime soap opera, while the show involves a Broadway musical. Critics rave that Santino Fontana delivers "one of the best performances ever seen on a musical stage" -Rolling Stone

Fontana is a graduate of the inaugural BFA Acting Class, a degree that provides both a well-rounded liberal arts education and professional training and experience from a partnership with the Guthrie Theater. In 2015 he returned to UMN to give the College of Liberal Arts Commencement speech. The BFA Acting program recently gained new leadership with the appointment of Aaron Todd Douglas as the Director of the BFA Acting Program who will lead alongside Maija Garcia, the Director of Professional Training at the Guthrie Theater. 

Fontana was raised between Stockton, Cal., and Richland, Wash., dabbling in the performing arts wherever possible. But it was as a member of the inaugural class of a BFA program that brought together the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater that he learned "the importance of what we're actually doing" as actors.

Throughout his school years, Fontana "tried to hide" that he could sing, fearing that he would be pigeonholed. He found work in plays — his first major professional job, at just 23, was playing the title role in a Guthrie production of "Hamlet" — but, soon thereafter, he moved to New York and began to embrace his musical gifts, as well, first appearing Off Broadway in "The Fantasticks" and then making his Broadway debut in a 2007 revival of "Sunday in the Park With George." -Hollywood Reporter