Caitlin Kinnunen (right), Isabelle McCalla and the cast of “The Prom” perform Sunday at the 73rd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Caitlin Kinnunen (right), Isabelle McCalla and the cast of “The Prom” perform Sunday at the 73rd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Camano Island native praised but falls short in Tony bid

Caitlin Kinnunen, a Kidstage actress, was nominated for best actress in a musical but lost to the favorite.

Caitlin Kinnunen, who grew up on Camano Island, did not win the Tony award for best leading actress in a Broadway musical, but the nomination itself was an honor, her mother said.

The Tony awards were broadcast Sunday evening from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, with host James Cordon. On hand for the awards and to watch Caitlin perform in the opening number were her parents, Betsy Stam and Randy Kinnunen of Camano.

“We are grateful,” Stam said. “To be nominated and have this level of validation of effort and accomplishment is not expected, surely not guaranteed. Being at the Tony awards is the stuff of family dreams.”

Kinnunen, 27, was just 16 when she moved to Manhattan to pursue those Broadway dreams, having been cast in a musical from a Seattle cattle-call audition.

She was not a shoe-in for her award. But in Rolling Stone magazine’s recent story about who will or who should win a Tony, Kinnunen was called a potential spoiler, as was “The Prom” in the best musical category.

The magazine listed Stephanie J. Block, who stars in “The Cher Show,” as the favorite in the best actress race, and indeed, Block won. Best musical was awarded to “Hadestown.”

“The tea leaves say it’s Block’s year. But let’s hear it for Kinnunen, the 27-year-old whose voice has the delicate clarity of crystal and whose acting skills bring a soulful urgency to the role of a lesbian high-schooler who finds the strength to fend off the gay-phobes who won’t let her love who she loves. ‘The Prom’ is a brash knockout of a musical, but Kinnunen is its bruised heart. She has a stunning future.”

Also nominated in the category of best leading actress in a musical was Beth Leavel, Kinnunen’s castmate in “The Prom.” An original musical-comedy, “The Prom” is pokes fun at four Broadway egomaniacs, including Leavel’s character, who descend on an Indiana town to help Emma (Kinnunen) take her girlfriend to the high school prom, and drum up some publicity for their sagging careers.

Kinnunen said “The Prom” is an important piece of theater, one that she hopes high schools around the country will begin to produce.

“It’s about love and acceptance, which in our current political climate, we need a lot more of,” she said, following her Tony nomination. “It’s a show that is changing minds. And I can’t tell you the number of young people who have stopped me on the street to say that the show makes them feel safe, respected, seen and heard. That’s why we do this.”

Kinnunen credits her success to her parents, who made sure theater was about being part of a team, and to Village Theatre and its KidStage program in Everett.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Denise McKenzie, who has been a bartenders at Kuhnle’s Tavern for many years, works behind the bar on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 106 years, Kuhnle’s Tavern in Marysville is closing

Come say farewell Sunday from noon to midnight at the historic bar with five beers on tap and a 50-cent pay phone.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.