Thomas Kail

Thomas Kail
Born (1978-01-20) January 20, 1978
Alexandria, Virginia
Nationality American
Occupation Film and theatre director
Awards SSDC Joseph A. Callaway Award (for In the Heights); 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical for Hamilton; 2016 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Hamilton

Thomas Kail (born January 20, 1978) is an American film and theatre director, known for directing the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musicals In the Heights[1] and Hamilton, for which he received the Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical.

Personal life

Kail grew up in Alexandria, Virginia[2] and graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 1995 and subsequently from Wesleyan University in 1999.[3][4] He remains good friends with Lin-Manuel Miranda, whom he met at Wesleyan and with whom he co-created the freestyle hip-hop group "Freestyle Love Supreme".[5][6]


After graduating from Wesleyan University, Kail became assistant stage manager at New Jersey's American Stage Company.[7]

Kail directed the 24 Hour Plays benefit performances in 2007 and 2008, where "6 short plays are written, rehearsed, directed, and performed in 24 hours."[8] In 2007, he directed Julia Jordan's A Bus Stop Play, and Beau Willimon's Zusammenbruch in 2008. Both shows played at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway.[9]

Kail directed the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, which garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.[10] The musical premiered on Broadway, starting in previews on February 14, 2008, with an official opening on March 9, 2008, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.[11]

Kail directed Broke-ology, which played from October 5, 2009, to November 22, 2009, at the Lincoln Center Theater Off-Broadway. This play garnered Kail an AUDELCO Award nomination for Best Director of a Dramatic Production.[12] Kail also staged the world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.[13] Also in 2009, Kail directed the New York City Center's Encores! production of the musical The Wiz.[14][15][16]

Kail directed Eric Simonson's play Lombardi, based on Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 season, as he attempts to lead his team to the championship.[17][18][19] Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010.[20]

He then directed the Off-Broadway run of Nathan Louis Jackson's When I Come to Die, which ran in January and February 2011.[13][21]

Kail reunited with Lombardi playwright Eric Simonson on Magic/Bird, a new play chronicling the intertwined life stories of basketball Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The play premiered on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on March 21, 2012, in previews, officially on April 11, 2012, and closed on May 12, 2012. Kail directed, with the cast that featured Kevin Daniels as "Magic" Johnson and Tug Coker as Larry Bird.[22]

Kail continued his collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda, directing the musical Hamilton in 2015, both Off-Broadway and on Broadway.[23]

Kail directed Grease: Live for Paramount Television, screened live on Fox on Sunday January 31, 2016;[24] the world premiere of Dry Powder with Hank Azaria, Claire Danes, John Krasinski and Sanjit De Silva which ran March-May 2016 at The Public Theater in New York City; [25] and "Tiny Beautiful Things", also at The Public, in November-December 2016.


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Critical Hours Director, Writer, Executive Producer Television pilot
2008 Roadtrip Nation Himself TV episode
2009 Storymakers Director TV episode
In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams Himself Episode of PBS' Great Performances
The Electric Company Musical Director TV series
2010 The Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special Director Talk show episode
2016 Grease: Live Director Live TV special

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2007 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical In the Heights Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
SDC Joseph A. Callaway Award Best Director Won
2008 Tony Award Best Director of a Musical Nominated
2010 AUDELCO Award Best Director of a Dramatic Production Broke-ology Nominated
2011 NAACP Award Best Director of a Musical In the Heights Won
2011 AUDELCO Award Best Director of a Dramatic Production When I Come To Die Nominated
2014 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Play Family Furniture Nominated
2015 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Director Hamilton Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
2016 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Won
Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Program Grease: Live Won
Emmy Award Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special Grease: Live Won


  1. Bacalzo, Daniel. "In the Heights Director Thomas Kail Receives Martin E. Segal Award". Theatre Mania. 2010-05-10.
  2. "Thomas Kail". Lincoln Center Theater. July 31, 2009.
  3. American Theatre Wing. "Biographies – Thomas Kail, Director", June 2009.
  5. "Playbill's Who's Who Biographies"
  6. Hetrick, Adam. "In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda Sets Freestyle Love Supreme Date at Irving Plaza". Playbill. January 5, 2011.
  7. "Thomas Kail"
  8. The Broadway League. 24 Hour Plays (2007) | IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information. Internet Broadway Database
  9. The Broadway League. 24 Hour Plays (2008) | IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information. Internet Broadway Database
  10. Kennedy, Mark. "Thomas Kail Enjoying His 'Year of Transition'". ABC News. 2010-12-10.
  11. Kenneth Jones. "In the Heights Will Play Broadway's Richard Rodgers Starting February 2008". Playbill.
  12. Brokeology. Lortel Archives/Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  13. 1 2 Hetrick, Adam. Tony Nominee Kail and Jackson Will Collaborate for Upcoming LCT3 Season. Playbill.
  14. "Thomas Kail to Direct The Wiz for New York City Center" TheaterMania. February 24, 2009.
  15. NY City Center's The Wiz listing
  16. Gans, Andrew. "The Wiz Ends Limited City Center Engagement July 5",, July 5, 2009
  17. "N.F.L. Gets Behind Lombardi". 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  18. Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. "Heights Director Kail to Direct Football-Themed Lombardi at Broadway's Circle in the Square",, April 14, 2010
  19. Murray, Larry (2010-05-18). "Lombardi". Berkshire On Stage. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  20. "Lombardi, IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information". The Broadway League. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  21. When I Come To Die. Lortel Archives/Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  22. "Magic/Bird Broadway", accessed September 26, 2015
  23. "Thomas Kail Broadway", accessed September 25, 2015
  24. "Grease:Live, About the Show" Accessed February 2, 2016
  25. "The Verdict: What Do Critics Think of Dry Powder?" by Olivia Clement, Playbill, March 23, 2016
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