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Veteran Chicago director David Cromer wins Tony Award for ‘The Band’s Visit’

David Cromer (left) and "The Band's Visit" director David Yazbek post at a June 4 cocktail party for Tony Award nominees in New York City. | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

David Cromer, who won acclaim and multiple local awards during his long run working in Chicago theater, scored his first Tony Award on his first nomination on Sunday.

He was cited as best director of a musical for his work on “The Band’s Visit,” a new musical about an Egyptian police band stranded in a small town in Israel. It’s based on a 2007 film.

A key character is haunted by a loved one’s suicide, and Cromer used his speech to make a plea to those whose “despair is overwhelming their hope.” Acknowledging that he lacked “the words or the wisdom” to fully address the issue, he spoke out nonetheless.

“If you are suffering, please, please call out,” Cromer said. “For those of us fortunate enough not be be suffering so deeply, please be sure we answer them.”

Cromer grew up in Skokie and won a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2010. He taught acting and directing at Columbia College Chicago for 15 years.

His world premiere of “Adding Machine: A Musical” at Next Theatre in Evanston and revival of “Our Town” at The Hypocrites both were hits that ended up Off Broadway.