Thomas Kail
Born (1977-01-20) January 20, 1977 (age 47)
Occupation(s)Theatre and television director
(m. 2020)

Thomas Kail (born January 20, 1977)[1] is an American theatre and television director, known for directing the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musicals In the Heights[2] and Hamilton, garnering the 2016 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for the latter. Kail was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor in 2018. He has also directed the television series Fosse/Verdon (2019), for which he was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards.

Personal life

Kail grew up in Alexandria, Virginia[3] and graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 1995 and subsequently from Wesleyan University in 1999.[4][5] He remains good friends with Lin-Manuel Miranda, with whom he co-created the freestyle hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme.[6][7] Kail is Jewish.[8]

Kail began a relationship with theatre actress Angela Christian in 2006; they divorced in 2019.[9][10][11] In December 2019, it was announced that he was engaged to Fosse/Verdon actress Michelle Williams, who was expecting their first child together;[12] they married in March 2020.[13] Their son, Hart, was born by June that year.[13] In May 2022, Williams revealed she is pregnant with their second child together, who was born later in 2022.[14]

Kail and Williams are raising their two young children with Judaism, and Williams (who is not Jewish) is studying the religion herself.[15] Williams also has a daughter from a previous relationship with Heath Ledger.[16]


After graduating from Wesleyan University, Kail became assistant stage manager at New Jersey's American Stage Company.[17]

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."[18] 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.[19]

Kail directed the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, which garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] Kail also staged the world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.[23] In 2009, Kail also directed the New York City Center's Encores! production of the musical The Wiz.[24][25][26]

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.[27][28][29] Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010.[30]

He then directed the Off-Broadway run of Nathan Louis Jackson's When I Come to Die, which ran in January and February 2011.[23][31]

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.[32]

Kail continued his collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda, directing the musical Hamilton in 2015, both Off-Broadway and on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award.[33]

Kail directed Grease: Live for Paramount Television, screened live on Fox on January 31, 2016;[34] the world premiere of Dry Powder with Hank Azaria, Claire Danes, John Krasinski and Sanjit De Silva which ran from March to May 2016 at The Public Theater in New York City;[35] and Tiny Beautiful Things, also at The Public, from November to December 2016.

On July 5, 2018, FX announced an eight-episode order for a limited-series entitled Fosse/Verdon, with Sam Rockwell playing the role of Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams playing the role of Gwen Verdon. On October 25, 2018, it was reported that Thomas Kail would direct at least four of the series' eight episodes and he would go on to direct a total of five episodes. Kail was nominated for Outstanding Directing – Movies for Television and Limited Series by the Directors Guild of America for the episode "Nowadays."

In May 2023, it was announced that Kail would direct a live action adaptation of the Disney animated film Moana, making his narrative feature directorial debut.[36]




Year Title Director Executive
Writer Notes
2006 Critical Hours Yes Yes Yes TV pilot
2009 Storymakers Yes No No
The Electric Company Yes No No Musical director
2010 The Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special Yes No No
2012 2 Broke Girls Yes No No 3 episodes
2015 The Jack and Triumph Show Yes No No 2 episodes
2016 Grease: Live Yes Co-executive No TV special
2019 Fosse/Verdon Yes Yes No 5 episodes
2023 Up Here Yes No No 2 episodes
2024 We Were the Lucky Ones Yes No No Episode "Radom"

As himself

Year Title Notes
2008 Roadtrip Nation TV episode
2009 In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams Episode of PBS' Great Performances



Year Title Venue Notes
2005 In the Heights Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Regional
2007 37 Arts Theater Off-Broadway
The 24 Hour Plays American Airlines Theatre Broadway
2008 In the Heights Richard Rodgers Theatre
2009 Broke-ology Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre Off-Broadway
In the Heights Various US Tour
2010 Lombardi Circle in the Square Broadway
2011 When I Come to Die Duke on 42nd Street Off-Broadway
In the Heights Various US Tour
2012 Magic/Bird Longacre Theatre Broadway
2015 Hamilton The Public Theater Off-Broadway
2016 Dry Powder
Daphne's Dive Signature Center
2016–present Hamilton Richard Rodgers Theatre Broadway
Various US Tour
2016 Tiny Beautiful Things The Public Theater Off-Broadway
2017–present Hamilton Victoria Palace Theatre West End
2018 Kings The Public Theater Off-Broadway
2019–2020 Freestyle Love Supreme (Also producer) Greenwich House Theatre
2019 Derren Brown: Secret Cort Theatre Broadway
Freestyle Love Supreme Booth Theatre
The Wrong Man Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space Off-Broadway
2023 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Broadway


Year Title Venue
2014 Faust: The Concert City Center

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2007 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical In the Heights Nominated [38]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
SDC Joseph A. Callaway Award Best Director Won [39]
2008 Tony Award Best Director of a Musical Nominated [40]
2010 AUDELCO Award Best Director of a Dramatic Production Broke-ology Nominated
2011 NAACP Award Best Director of a Musical In the Heights Won
AUDELCO Award Best Director of a Dramatic Production When I Come To Die Nominated [41]
2014 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Play Family Furniture Nominated [38]
2015 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Director Hamilton Won [42]
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated [38]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
2016 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Won [43]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Program Grease: Live Won [44]
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special Won
2018 Laurence Olivier Award Best Director Hamilton Nominated [45]
Kennedy Center Honors (shared with Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda) Honoree [46]
2019 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Limited Series Fosse/Verdon Nominated [44]
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Fosse/Verdon
(Episode: "Who's Got the Pain?")
2020 Grammy Awards Best Music Film We Are Freestyle Love Supreme Nominated [47]
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or TV Film Fosse/Verdon
(Episode: "Nowadays")
Nominated [48]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical The Wrong Man Nominated
2021 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or TV Film Hamilton Nominated [49]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Won [44]
Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Nominated
2023 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Won


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  3. ^ "Thomas Kail" Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Lincoln Center Theater. July 31, 2009.
  4. ^ American Theatre Wing. "Biographies – Thomas Kail, Director" Archived May 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, June 2009.
  5. ^ "Video: Thomas Kail '99 on directing Lombardi: A New American Play - Voices of Wesleyan - Wesleyan University". Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Playbill's Who's Who Biographies" Archived December 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda Sets Freestyle Love Supreme Date at Irving Plaza" Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Playbill. January 5, 2011.
  8. ^ "Hamilton Highlights Jewish Talent — Detroit Jewish News". February 27, 2019.
  9. ^ "A Grand Opening for the Roundabout's Heartbreak House". October 11, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  10. ^ "2016 Tony Awards - He/She Said What?! Relive the Acceptance Speeches: Updating LIVE!". BroadwayWorld. June 12, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  11. ^ "Hamilton director Thomas Kail arrives for Kennedy Center Honors Gala in Washington DC". UPI. December 8, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  12. ^ Fernandez, Alexia (December 30, 2019). "Michelle Williams Is Pregnant and Engaged to Hamilton Director Thomas Kail". People Magazine. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Waterhouse, Jonah (June 18, 2020). "Michelle Williams Gives Birth to Her Second Child in Lockdown". Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  14. ^ "Michelle Williams Gives Birth to Baby No. 3". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  15. ^ "Michelle Williams, who plays Steven Spielberg's mother in 'The Fabelmans,' says she plans to raise her children Jewish". November 25, 2022.
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  18. ^ The Broadway League. 24 Hour Plays (2007) | IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information. Internet Broadway Database
  19. ^ The Broadway League. 24 Hour Plays (2008) | IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information. Internet Broadway Database
  20. ^ Kennedy, Mark. "Thomas Kail Enjoying His 'Year of Transition'". ABC News. December 10, 2010.
  21. ^ Kenneth Jones. "In the Heights Will Play Broadway's Richard Rodgers Starting February 2008" Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Playbill.
  22. ^ Brokeology. Lortel Archives/Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  23. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam. Tony Nominee Kail and Jackson Will Collaborate for Upcoming LCT3 Season Archived June 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Playbill.
  24. ^ "Thomas Kail to Direct The Wiz for New York City Center" TheaterMania. February 24, 2009.
  25. ^ NY City Center's The Wiz listing
  26. ^ Gans, Andrew. "The Wiz Ends Limited City Center Engagement July 5",, July 5, 2009.
  27. ^ "N.F.L. Gets Behind Lombardi". August 20, 2010. Archived from the original on August 24, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. "Heights Director Kail to Direct Football-Themed Lombardi at Broadway's Circle in the Square" Archived June 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine,, April 14, 2010.
  29. ^ Murray, Larry (May 18, 2010). "Lombardi". Berkshire On Stage. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  30. ^ "Lombardi, IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information". The Broadway League. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  31. ^ When I Come To Die. Lortel Archives/Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  32. ^ "Magic/Bird Broadway", accessed September 26, 2015.
  33. ^ "Thomas Kail Broadway", accessed September 25, 2015.
  34. ^ "Grease:Live, About the Show" Accessed February 2, 2016.
  35. ^ "The Verdict: What Do Critics Think of Dry Powder?" by Olivia Clement, Playbill, March 23, 2016.
  36. ^ Kit, Borys (May 31, 2023). "Disney's Live-Action 'Moana' Taps 'Hamilton' Helmer Thomas Kail as Director". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  37. ^ Radulovic, Petrana (February 3, 2020). "Disney releasing filmed version of Hamilton in theaters in 2021". Polygon. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
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  41. ^ "AUDELCO nominations are out!". November 2, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
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