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Guest artists Paz, Blanco receive Drama Desk Awards

Paul Warchol / Office of Communications
Paul Warchol / Office of Communications

Guest artists Jessica Paz and Montana Levi Blanco received honors at the 64th Annual Drama Desk Awards on June 2. Guest artists offer their professional talents to productions with the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Founded in 1949, the Drama Desk initiated its awards ceremony in 1955 to honor outstanding theatrical achievement Off-Broadway. The Drama Desk Awards now recognize exceptional theatrical work in more than thirty categories by artists working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway. A committee of critics, publishers, editors, journalists, and broadcasters vote on and bestow the awards.


The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Sound Design in a Play was awarded to Paz for her work as Associate Sound Designer on “Hadestown.” Paz has previously sound designed shows such as “Bandstand,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and many productions with The Public Theater. 

In 2018, Paz served as a design advisor in the Program in Theater and Music Theater production of “Next to Normal,” and she sound-designed the Program in Theater and Music Theater production of “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” 

Paz shares the Drama Desk Award with Associate Sound Designer Nevin Steinberg.

The Sam Norkin Award in Costume Design was awarded to Blanco for his achievements in costume design this season. 

“To Montana Levi Blanco, who enriched this season with his vibrant and detailed costumes” for “‘Fairview,’ ‘The House That Will Not Stand,’ ‘Fabulation,’ ‘Or the Re-Education of Undine,’ ‘Eddie and Dave,’ ‘“Daddy,’” and ‘Ain't No Mo,’” a statement made by The Drama Desk regarding the pre-announced Special Award reads. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a Blanco costume is worth considerably more, telling us a complete story about its wearer while giving us something fabulous to look at.”

As a guest artist with the Lewis Center for the Arts, Blanco costumed the 2015 production of “Zoyka’s Apartment” and the 2017 production of “Gurls.”


Other University-affiliated nominees include guest artist Yi Zhao for Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play (“The House That Will Not Stand”), past faculty member Mimi Lien for Outstanding Set Design of a Play (“Fairview”), faculty member Rachel Hauck for Outstanding Set Design of a Musical (“Hadestown”), and Jeff Kuperman ’12 (with Rick Kuperman) for Outstanding Choreography (“Alice by Heart”). Classic Stage Company’s production of “Carmen Jones” was nominated for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, directed by faculty member and Classic Stage Company artistic director John Doyle.

In addition, Alex Mannix ’12 worked as Assistant Lighting Designer to Bradley King, the recipient of the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical for “Hadestown.” Mannix designed over thirty productions as an undergraduate at Princeton and has regularly designed Princeton Summer Theater productions.

Paz has also been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Sound Design in a Musical. Several other University alumni, faculty, and guest artists have received Tony Award nominations as well. The recipients will be announced at Radio City Music Hall on June 9 at the 73rd Annual event beginning at 8 p.m.

The Drama Desk Awards ceremony was held at 8 p.m. at The Town Hall in New York City, N.Y.

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Paz and Blanco did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.