The University of Michigan was praised at the Tony Awards, Sunday night.

Gavin Creel dedicated his award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in “Hello, Dolly!” to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Creel graduated in 1998.

“My education as a young person there changed my life forever,” he said. “My professors, my classmates, they instilled in me an appreciation for what it is to be an artist and what it is to be lucky to be part of this incredible community.”

Creel encouraged the audience — many of them prominent actors and actresses — to start scholarships for young people. 

Also among the winners were alumni Benj Pasek and Justin Paul whose musical “Dear Evan Hansen” received nine Tony Award nominations and six wins. Among them, the duo took home Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Recently, the songwriters have received much acclaim for writing the lyrics for the music in the film La La Land. They received the Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for Best Original Song from the film — “City of Stars”. They also received Best Original Score Tony Award in 2013 for “A Christmas Story: The Musical.”

Both are 2006 graduates from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and recipients of the Bicentennial Alumni Award.  

Finally, James Earl Jones, a SMTD graduate from 1955, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. While in films he may be best known for the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies, Jones has been on Broadway since 1957. He won his first Tony in 1969 for his role in “The Great White Hope”. 

For unknown reasons, his speech was not broadcasted on television. 

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