Jeff Whitty, best known for winning the 2004 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for "Avenue Q," will be a Visiting Artist at the Savannah College of Art and Design Jan. 30-Feb. 2. Whitty will work with the university's performing arts students in audition and dramatic writings classes. Students will also have a chance to talk with Whitty during an open question-and-answer session moderated by Sharon Ott, SCAD Performing Arts Artistic Director.
"I've been really blessed in my career, thanks in no small part to the advice I received from people who had been through it themselves," said Whitty. "That's why I think it's so important to talk to students - to help them anticipate and appreciate the bumps in the road. I expect being down at SCAD - a university devoted to nurturing the arts - to be a particularly exciting experience."
"We are thrilled that Jeff is going to be working with our students," said Ott. "He has been involved in all aspects of theater. His journey has taken him from a struggling actor, to a young playwright working Off-Broadway, to a Tony Award-winning Broadway professional. His diverse and colorful history makes him the perfect person to speak to performing arts students at the beginning of their journey."
Whitty wrote the book for the musical "Avenue Q," which opened Off-Broadway in 2003, moved to Broadway for a six-and-a-half year run, and then made the rare move of returning to Off-Broadway, where it is still running. It also opened on London's West End in 2006, with national tours and dozens of international productions in nations as diverse as Israel, Brazil, Finland and Australia. "Avenue Q" won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.
Other plays Whitty has written include "The Plank Project," "The Hiding Place" and "The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler," which premiered at South Coast Repertory and subsequently ran at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Whitty is currently developing a musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" novels, with music by Jake Shears and John Garden of the Scissor Sisters. Also in the works is "Bring It On: The Musical," an original musical springing from the "Bring It On" series of films.
Whitty is the latest in a series of theater professionals to visit SCAD. Among those who have recently spoken to SCAD performing arts students are Patricia Clarkson, Hugh Dancy, Alan Cumming, Rachel York, Chris Cooper, Marc Shaiman, Manhattan Theatre Club casting director Nancy Piccione, and film and television casting agent Sheila Jaffe.