Bonnie Milligan Shares How the Kimberly Akimbo Solid Got here Collectively After a Heartbreaking Loss


Locations, please for ELLE’s month-to-month column Showstoppers, the place theater’s largest stars replicate upon the second of their profession the place the well-known phrase “the present should go on” grew to become somewhat too actual. When issues don’t go based on plan onstage, right here’s how the professionals react—and what they take away from it.

This month, Bonnie Milligan, who simply gained the Tony Award for Greatest Efficiency by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her flip as Debra in Kimberly Akimbo, pays tribute to the present’s late affiliate choreographer, Darius Barnes. Beneath, Milligan, in her personal phrases, particulars the loss for the Kimberly Akimbo solid and the way their neighborhood got here collectively in a troublesome time.

Between the Off-Broadway run and Broadway run [of Kimberly Akimbo] we misplaced our affiliate choreographer, Darius Barnes, who I referenced in my Tonys speech. So, on the primary day all of us bought collectively for Broadway, we simply kind of took a second to speak about him. We had a potluck, toast, and dialogue about him and our recollections and our love of him. Earlier than [Broadway rehearsals] even began, we acknowledged his absence and what that will imply going ahead. He was such part of us constructing [the show] and the enjoyment in being there.


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I do know in occasions once I was battling my very own journey of making an attempt to determine the way to calibrate Debra, and the way a lot I used to be allowed to kind of love Kimberly, as a result of as an individual who had misplaced her father not too long ago, I used to be kind of taken again to a spot of being a human with one other human who’s at doubtless the top of their life and clinging to them, I didn’t understand how a lot of that was applicable for the present and the way a lot of it was simply me. He was very instrumental in these [moments]. After I would get somewhat overwhelmed when issues would occur, he would type of reassure me and be with me and assist specify the emotional journey I wished to usher in by these actions and thru these issues.

new york, new york december 08 associate choreographer darius barnes poses at the opening night of atlantic theater companys kimberly akimbo at the linda gross theater on december 8, 2021 in new york city photo by bruce glikasgetty images

Darius Barnes on the Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Firm opening of Kimberly Akimbo

Bruce Glikas

So, we had a giant potluck, I believe on the finish of the primary week. We lit a candle. We every talked. A really expensive pal of his has taken over, Brittney Griffin, as our affiliate choreographer. And so, that was good to kind of nonetheless really feel like you’ve got a chunk of him and his historical past. She’s introduced a lot amazingness to the Broadway manufacturing. That was one thing that felt like we had been like, “How will we go on from right here?”

This piece has been so contemporary in all of our minds. We, particularly getting back from Covid, actually felt misplaced and felt somebody gone too quickly. He lives on with the artwork. I kind of mentioned in my [Tonys] speech, so far as my dad goes, I get my voice from my dad, so he will get to reside on by me in different methods. So, that’s been kind of the main crossroads of how we proceed from right here.

new york, ny july 26 bonnie milligan performs during the opening night curtain call of

Bonnie Milligan in Head Over Heels as Pamela

Noam Galai

You already know, there have been different occasions once I bought a sinus an infection throughout Head Over Heels and I bear in mind being on stage and having to study within the second, I had warmed up and all the things was there, after which I began to belt and it didn’t wish to come by, and I needed to sing the entire present round it. That was actually scary. My co-star, Rachel York, took me to the aspect and he or she mentioned, “You’ve bought this. You understand how to do that, you realize your voice. It’s okay.”

So, there are issues that may simply be a easy little roadblock like that or one thing large like a loss that, for me what it’s at all times come all the way down to has been the individuals round me and the way they kind uplift me and the way we, collectively, get by it.

bonnie milligan tony

Bonnie Milligan and her Tony Award for Greatest Efficiency by a Featured Actress in a Musical

Little Fang on the Carlyle


“I imply the popularity already meant all the things—to be on this neighborhood, and to see this group of nominees look somewhat bit extra just like the world than we have had shortly. To win and to be up there and really feel great and fats and glam and all this stuff, and to be revered. A variety of occasions we’ve been delegated as plus-size of us off to the aspect. You come on stage and sing one spectacular factor and then you definately depart, and also you don’t actually have an arc. To actually be awarded for performing [meant everything]; positive, I sing lots within the present, however performing is what a Tony is.

“And, I’ve bought to say to America: You are able to do this. None of my circumstances ought to have had me right here, and I fought towards lots, nevertheless it simply meant the world. I’ve at all times felt this calling to do that. For years, particularly through the pandemic, when all the things shut down, I believed, you realize, I used to be a reasonably good scholar. I may have been lawyer. I may have been a physician. Have I made all of the dumbest choices? So this, it was unbelievable.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Bonnie Milligan presently stars as Aunt Debra in Kimberly Akimbo on the Sales space Theatre. Tickets may be bought right here.

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Samuel is the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at ELLE Journal. His pursuits embody music, theater, books, video video games, and something to do with Taylor Swift. He famously broke each his arms on the identical time in fourth grade.