Hearing “Tony-winner Tom Kitt” still doesn’t sound anywhere next to normal for the 1992 graduate of Armonk’s Byram Hills High School, but he has earned the introduction.
Kitt took home two statuettes for his work on “Next to Normal,” the Broadway musical he co-wrote with Brian Yorkey: one for best score (which he shared with lyricist Yorkey), the other for best orchestrations (which he shared with Michael Starobin). The orchestrations award was a tie, with Martin Koch of “Billy Elliott.”
Actually, Kitt’s Tony statuettes didn’t make it home after the June 7 awards. They were sent off to the engravers. But they did spend Tony night being juggled between Kitt and his wife, Rita Pietropinto.
“The wonderful thing about having two Tony Awards, obviously, is having two Tony Awards,” Kitt says. “But throughout the night we each got to carry one. And they’re as much Rita’s as mine.”
Tony night is still a bit of blur.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” he says. “There’s so much happening at once. While we were up there, the moment went by in a blur. There are so many people who you want to talk about in that moment, so many people who have given to this show. Certainly the one Brian and I had a big thing planned for but couldn’t get to was (director) Michael Greif. His contribution to this piece is just mammoth and we would not be here without his incredible work.”
On a night when “Billy Elliott” won 10 Tony Awards, “everything felt like a surprise, certainly orchestrations and score,” Kitt says.
“I had the attitude that they were the favorites for everything, deservedly so, and if we were able to win anything, it’d be a nice surprise. With orchestrations, it was great, because we tied with them, so both shows were recognized.”
When “Billy Elliott” won best musical, the evening’s biggest prize, the first words composer Elton John offered from the podium were to Kitt and Yorkey.
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate the writers to ‘Next to Normal,’ what an incredible night for you guys. May you stay together and write many more musicals and be loyal and true to each other and enjoy tonight as we are going to enjoy tonight.”
“Sure we felt a little disappointment (at not winning best musical),” Kitt says, “but when Elton John said that to us, that, to me, was my best musical. He is my hero and for him to reach out to Brian and me in that moment meant everything to us.”
Of all his recollections from Tony night, “the memory that I’ll replay in my head is the endless moment of reading the envelope and then hearing ‘Next to Normal,’” Kitt says.
“What you feel in that moment is indescribable. Will Ferrell (who presented the best-score winner) was the nicest guy, he was so sweet to Brian and me. He just congratulated us and seemed interested in our jubilation. And getting to kiss Rita in the moment we won was just wonderful.”
Next for Kitt is writing additional orchestrations for a stage adaptation of Green Day’s album “American Idiot” which is going to play Berkeley Rep in California this summer, with Michael Mayer directing a cast of 19.
(Photo by Seth Wenig/Associated Press: Composer Tom Kitt accepts his award for best orchestrations for “Next to Normal” at 63rd Annual Tony Awards in New York, Sunday, June 7, 2009.