• Creative

The Broadway Career of Michael Greif

June 10, 2024

On June 16, 2024, the 77th Annual Tony Awards will be held at the David H. Koch Theater, celebrating the best and brightest of this year’s Broadway season! The nominees include those onstage and off, mainstays and newcomers alike. In celebration, Broadway’s Best Shows is highlighting some of the Broadway perennials recognized with Tony nods in this incredibly fruitful year.

This season, five-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif achieved the rare feat of directing three Broadway productions in a single season: “Days of Wine and Roses,” “The Notebook” (co-directed with Schele Williams), and “Hell’s Kitchen.” Greif is nominated for Best Direction of a Musical for his work on “Hell’s Kitchen.” Here’s a breakdown of the Broadway productions that got him here!

Rent (1996)

Greif’s breakout moment came with Jonathan Larson’s rock musical Rent, a modern adaptation of Puccini’s “La Bohème” set in New York City’s East Village. This production, with its raw portrayal of artists struggling with love, life, and AIDS, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Greif’s direction was pivotal in capturing the spirit of the era, blending gritty realism with hopeful idealism, and introducing a new, diverse audience to Broadway.

Never Gonna Dance (2003)

The musical, featuring the music of Jerome Kern, marked the return of Greif to Broadway after the success of Rent. Based on the 1936 film Swing Time, the musical had a short run at the Broadhurst theater and featured choreography by Broadway legend Jerry Mitchell. 

Grey Gardens (2006)

Greif received his second Tony Award nomination for his Direction of this musical adaptation of the 1975 documentary. With book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, Grey Gardens starred Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson, and earned critical acclaim for its intimate portrayal of eccentricity and decline. Greif’s sensitive direction highlighted the nuanced performances, helping Ebersole and Wilson win Tony Awards for their roles.

Next to Normal (2009)

A staple in the musical theater canon, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Next to Normal was Greif’s third Tony Award nomination for Best Direction. The rock musical which explores mental illness and its impact on a suburban family. Greif’s ability to navigate the show’s emotional intensity and complex subject matter resulted in a powerful, empathetic production that resonated deeply with audiences and critics alike. 

If/Then (2014)

The 2014 musical marked Greif’s second Broadway production with writing team Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. Starring Idina Menzel, If/Then played a total of 401 performances and 19 previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, closing on March 22, 2015. The musical also features Broadway regulars LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, and Jen Colella. 

Dear Evan Hansen (2016)

Greif earned his fourth Tony Award nomination for his work on Dear Evan Hansen. The musical, with book by Steven Levenson, music by Justin Paul, and lyrics by Benj Pasek, follows the life of a socially anxious teenager caught in a web of lies, struck a chord with its contemporary themes of social media and mental health. Under Greif’s direction, the production received six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. His sensitive handling of the material and the compelling performances he drew from the cast, particularly Ben Platt, played a significant role in the show’s success.

War Paint (2017)

Starring Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, War Paint told the story of two pioneering women in the beauty industry: Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. The musical explored themes of rivalry, ambition, and empowerment. Greif’s direction brought out the competitive spirit and underlying respect between the two characters. War Paint concluded its Broadway run on November 5th, 2017, after 269 performances. 

Days of Wine and Roses (2024)

Greif’s first musical of the 2023-2024 Broadway season was the Broadway transfer of Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas’ Days of Wine and Roses. Starring Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James, the musical adaptation of the 1962 film following a young couple and their decent into alcoholism. The musical earned critical acclaim for its score and handle of the intense subject matter, and the production ended its Broadway engagement at Studio 54 on March 31st

The Notebook (2024)

The Ingrid Michaelson and Bekah Brunstetter adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel marks Greifs second production of the 2023-2024 Broadway season. Co-directed by Greif and Schele Williams,  the musical follows the harrowing love story of a young couple at three stages of their life and opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in March following its world premiere in Chicago. 

Hell’s Kitchen (2024)

Hell’s Kitchen is Greif’s third production of the 2023-2024 Broadway season and his fifth Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical. Currently playing at the Shubert Theatre,  Hell’s Kitchen features the music of Alicia Keys and is a semi-autobiographical story of her childhood in central Manhattan. The show has earned 13 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.