Curtain’s up on MFA Acting Program as alumna garners Tony Award nomination

Case Western Reserve University alumna Elizabeth A. Davis (GRS ’06) can add another role to her repertoire: Tony Award nominee.

A graduate of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House Master in Fine Arts Acting Program, Davis earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. She plays the role of Reza, the roommate of the unnamed female lead, in Once, based on the Oscar-winning 2006 independent film of the same name. Once leads this year’s nominations with a total of 11, including Best Musical. This is Davis’s first Tony nomination—and first Broadway role.

“All of us at the College of Arts and Sciences are thrilled for Elizabeth’s success. Having seen her moving performances on several occasions, I can say that it is no surprise that her talent has brought her acclaim so early in her career,” said Cyrus C. Taylor, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Elizabeth has been generous with her time in supporting the current students in the MFA Acting Program, and I’m extremely proud that she received her theatrical training as part of our partnership with the Cleveland Play House.”

Davis began her Once role about a year ago. As Davis wrote in a recent article for, the cast learned the entire show in three and a half weeks at Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater. From there the show moved off-Broadway to the New York Theatre Workshop. Finally, last month, the performance found a home on Broadway at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

A violinist for 18 years, Davis now uses these skills on stage as the Czech roommate of the lead character.

“It’s truly a blessing for my Broadway debut to include singing, playing, dancing and acting,” Davis wrote in the article. “You won’t find musical theater credits on my resume because I’ve never done any. Landing a job like this seemed far from reach, with my violin and closeted voice just on the side.”

Her previous credits included an off-Broadway run in The 39 Steps, an award-winning performance as Emily Dickinson in Emily and roles in Cleveland Play House productions such as Well and A Streetcar Named Desire.

“We are extremely proud of Elizabeth and her accomplishments,” said Ron Wilson, director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program and chair of the Department of Theater. “She has more than fulfilled our expectations.”

This is the first Tony nomination for a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program.

Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House joined together in 1996 to offer a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting. Alumni of the theater department include Mad Men’s Rich Sommer (GRS ’04) and Emmy-award-winning director Joe Russo (GRS ’95).

The Tony Awards will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. June 10 on CBS.