For Melissa Shakun, it all started at her bat mitzvah.
Shakun, a West Hartford native and 2001 Hall High School graduate, won the 2018 Emmy for her work as art director on the NBC special “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” She took home the award for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special, presented at the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony held Sept. 9 in Los Angeles. The show won five awards at the Creative Arts Emmys.
Describing the Emmy experience as “incredibly surreal,“ Shakun brought along as her date her dad, Harlan Shakun, a professor of accounting at Central Connecticut State University and a partner in the Bloomfield accounting firm Shakun & Shakun.
“It was very special to be able to share this moment with my dad,” she said. “He has been by my side and supportive of this adventure in the entertainment industry.”
Shakun has art directed for a variety of TV shows, including “The Americans,” “Mysteries is Laura,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show” and “Difficult People.” She has also served as associate or assistant set designer on six Broadway shows, including “Shrek” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” was her first to combine two of Melissa’s passions – TV and musical theater.
“What a way to get this beautiful format of musicals on TV and to be able to reach a national audience,” said Shakun. “I’ve always loved theater. My bat mitzvah theme was Broadway musicals, every table was a different Broadway show.”
Amidst all the hoopla, she took a moment to pay tribute to her mother, Amy Shakun z”l.
“My mom passed away 19 years ago. I miss her every day,” she said. “I thank her for sharing with me her zest for life and love of musicals. I think that she would be over the moon about this award.”
The Creative Arts Emmys were handed out at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles with the awards being presented by the likes of Bryan Cranston, the “Fuller House” cast, JamesCorden, Jane Lynch, Lisa Kudrow, Molly Shannon, Padma Lakshmi, RuPaul and the hosts of “Queer Eye.”
The experience led Shakun to a bit of inner reflection. “I guess you can say,” she said, “it’s okay for a nice Jewish girl to love ‘Jesus’.”
CAP: Melissa shakun and her dad, Harlan.