On Monday, May 2, 2016, the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in the professional theatre, is celebrating the talents of six outstanding women: Micki Grant, Jane Cox, Ari Laura Kreith, Lisa Kron, Lear DeBessonet, and Elsa Rael at the League’s 2016 Awards Celebration & Big Mingle, hosted by five-time Tony-Award nominee Estelle Parsons, held at 6:30 pm on Monday, May 2 at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street). Tickets to attend the Awards Ceremony & Big Mingle reception are $100 for members, $135 for non-members, and $250 for VIP (which include premium seating). All tickets are available online.
In connection with the Awards Celebration & Big Mingle, the LPTW will be holding their Fourth Annual Online Auction, which will run until Friday, May 6th at 11:59PM. Special prizes include tickets to Broadway’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o, tickets to Broadway’s An American in Paris, four passes to Disney World, and tickets to a New York Yankees game! The auction is open to the public and bids can be made at: www.biddingforgood.com/LPTWAuction. I’ve donated a 3-hour location photography session (valued $1000) in honor of Ms. Grant that can be used to document your rehearsal, your production or your opening night. To bid, click here.
Micki Grant, three-time Tony Nominee, will be presented with The Lifetime Achievement Award by James Morgan (Producing Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company). On the eve of the 45th anniversary of her seminal musical Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope in February, The York Theatre Company presented a staged concert version part of its Winter 2016 “Musicals in Mufti” Series. Directed by Leslie Dockery, with music direction by William Foster McDaniel, the cast included Jelani Alladin, Darilyn Castillo, Doug Eskew, Tina Fabrique, Marva Hicks, Devin L. Roberts, Raun Ruffin, and Debra Walton.
Marva Hicks, Doug Eskew, Tina Fabrique, Devin L. Roberts, Jelani Alladin, Darilyn Castillo, Raun Ruffin, Debra Walton in York’s DON’T BOTHER ME, I CAN’T COPE by Micki Grant as Part of Musicals in Mufti 2016, Feb. 27 – Mar. 6
The Ruth Morley Design Award was initiated in 1998 in honor of costume designer Ruth Morley, one of the profession’s leading designers for theatre and film who also served on the LPTW Board of Directors. It is given annually to an outstanding female theatre designer in the field of costumes, scenery, lighting, or special effects. This year the award will be presented by John Doyle (The Color Purple, The Visit, A Catered Affair, Company, winner of Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Sweeney Todd) to set designer Jane Cox, this season’s Color Purple, Noises Off, and Hamlet.
In April 1999, the LPTW received a bequest from the Lucille Lortel estate to establish a fund which would be given annually to “an aspiring woman in any discipline of theatre who is showing great creative promise and deserves recognition and encouragement.” This year’s award will be given to Ari Laura Kreith, Artistic Director of Theatre 167 by Tina Howe (Birth and After Birth, Museum, The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, Approaching Zanzibar, and Pride’s Crossing).
The Lee Reynolds Award, in memory of producer and League member Lee Reynolds, is given annually to a woman or women active in any aspect of theatre whose work through the medium of theatre has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change. Lisa Kron (also representing Jeanine Tesori), will be presented the award by Sam Gold (Director of Fun Home, A Look Back at Anger, Seminar, The Realistic Joneses, The Real Thing, Picnic), for their work on Broadway’s Fun Home.
The Josephine Abady Award is given in memory of Josephine R. Abady, a stage and artistic director, and leader of the nonprofit theatre movement in the United States. The award is given annually to a woman emerging theatre artist who has created work of cultural diversity. This year’s recipient is Lear DeBessonet, director of Public Works at the Public Theater. She will be presented with the award by Anne Bogart (Co-Artistic Director of the ensemble-based SITI Company, head of the MFA Directing program at Columbia University).
Elsa Rael, playwright and founder of Professional Older Women’s Theater and Women In Arts & Media Coalition, will receive a LPTW Special Award, presented by Shellen Lubin (directed 31st Annual Bistro Awards and Door Opens Walk Thru by Susan Merson at 13th Street Rep, VP of Programming for LPTW, and Co-President of the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition).
With five 1972 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical the same year, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope also won Micki Grant a Grammy Award for best score-the first female to be so honored. Ms. Grant was also one of the stars of the show, which came to Broadway after successful runs in Washington DC, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The show ran for over two years on Broadway. A dynamic mixture of gospel, jazz, funk, soul, calypso, and soft rock, the show illuminates the African-American experience with vibrant song and dance. Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope was described as “a cultural pulse-taking of the challenges facing the black community in America” and is the first Broadway musical written entirely by a woman and the first Broadway production to be directed by a female African-American.
Ms. Grant has received many Grammy and Tony nominations for her various musicals, such as Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, It’s So Nice To Be Civilized, J.E. Franklin’s Prodigal Sister, Eubie, and Sweet & Hot. As an actress, Ms. Grant has performed on and Off-Broadway and in regional theatres around the country, having made her Broadway debut as the ingenue in Langston Hughes’ Tambourines To Glory. In the late nineties, a two-year tour of the play Having Our Say took her to more than 68 U.S. cities and to Johannesburg, South Africa, earning her the Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delany. The first African American contract player on a daytime serial, she played the role of attorney Peggy Nolan on NBC’s “Another World” for seven years, and has had continuing roles on “Edge of Night” and “Guiding Light,” as well as guesting on “All My Children”. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including: Obie Award, NAACP Image, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Audelco’s Outstanding Pioneer, AEA’s Paul Robeson and the Nat’l Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend and Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Awards.
Jane Cox is a lighting designer for theatre, opera, dance and music based in Brooklyn, New York. Designs this season include Color Purple (directed by John Doyle) currently running on Broadway; Noises Off directed by Jeremy Herrin (Broadway); Hamlet directed by Lyndsey Turner (with Benedict Cumberbatch) and the new play Roe at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed by Bill Rauch. Upcoming projects include Othello (directed by Sam Gold); the new musical Amelie (directed by Pam MacKinnon); a third production of The Flick by Annie Baker at the National Theatre in London, and Peer Gynt at Classic Stage Company (John Doyle). In 2015, Jane was awarded the OnStage award in London for her work on Hamlet at the Barbican. In 2014, Jane was nominated for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her work on Machinal. Jane is a company member of the Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company, who are currently working on three projects – Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host with Ira Glass; a new museum workout with illustrator Maira Kalman; and Happy Hour, a piece involving karaoke, cocktails and suits. Jane has an ongoing relationship with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, long standing collaborations with directors John Doyle, Sam Gold and Bill Rauch, among others, as well as with choreographer Doug Varone, with whom she was awarded a Bessie for light and dance. She maintains personal and professional connections with Dublin and London; and has been teaching about light and theater design to anyone who will listen in the wonderful Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University since 2007.
Lear deBessonet is currently Resident Director at the Public Theater and the founder/director of Public Works. For the Public, she has directed pageant-style musical adaptations of The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, and The Odyssey at the Delacorte, each featuring over two hundred New Yorkers from all five boroughs with appearances from diverse groups including gospel choirs, marching bands, park rangers, and taxi drivers. She received Obie and Lilly Awards and a Drama Desk nomination for her direction of Good Person of Szechwan (Foundry Theatre at LaMaMa; Public Theater). Her previous large-scale community projects include The Odyssey at the Old Globe and her site-specific Don Quixote. She has directed shows for Encores! Off-Center, LCT3, the Intiman, the Guthrie, Joe’s Pub, Women’s Project, Performance Space 122, 13p, and Clubbed Thumb. Recipient of TCG’s Peter Zeisler Award, LMCC’s Presidential Award for Artistic Excellence, the Meadow’s Prize, and the Doris Duke Impact Award.
Ari Laura Kreith (BA—Yale University; MFA—University of California at Davis) is the founder and Artistic Director of Theatre 167, this year’s recipient of the New York Innovative Theater Foundation’s Caffe Cino Fellowship for consistently producing outstanding work off-off-Broadway. She conceived and directed The Jackson Heights Trilogy—three full-length plays (167 Tongues, You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase and Jackson Heights 3AM) collaboratively written by 18 playwrights featuring 37 actors in 93 roles in 14 languages—which Theatre 167 produced individually in Queens, then in rotating repertory as a 6-hour epic in Manhattan, and subsequently re-imagined as an immersive installation for Queens Museum. Her production of Pirira, set simultaneously in Malawi and New York, received the 2014 NYIT Award for Outstanding Premiere Production Of A Play and transferred off-Broadway. Commissions include I Like To Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, or, This Is A Mango at the New Ohio Theatre for the Theater:Village Festival and several short plays for Queens Theatre’s World’s Fair Play Festival. Other recent highlights include The Church of Why Not, based on an interfaith activist community, which premiered at the space that inspired it, and Mourning Sun, a new play set in Ethiopia and New York. She is currently directing You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase, a multilingual, magical realist adventure created with 7 playwrights in 11 languages, which has performances at Manhattan’s West End Theatre through May 1. www.arilaurakreith.com
Lisa Kron is a writer and performer whose work has been widely produced in New York, regionally, and internationally. She wrote the book and lyrics for musical Fun Home, with music by composer Jeanine Tesori, which won five 2015 Tony awards including Best Musical. It also received Lortel, Obie, Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle awards for best musical and was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Lisa’s other plays include The Ver**zon Play; In The Wake (Lilly Award, Best Plays of 2010-2011); Well (Best Plays of 2003-2004, 2006 Tony nom. for Best Actress); and 2.5 Minute Ride (Obie, L.A. Drama-Logue and GLAAD Media Awards). As an actor, recent roles include Mrs. Mi-Tzu and Mrs. Yang in the Foundry Theater’s acclaimed production of Good Person of Szechuan (Lortel Award, Outstanding Featured Actress), and dance critic Walter Terry in Richard Move’s Martha @… The 1963 Interview (DTW, New York Live Arts and the Singapore International Festival of the Arts). Honors include Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a Cal Arts/Alpert Award, a Helen Merrill Award, and grants from the Creative Capital and NYFA. Lisa is a founding member of the OBIE- and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers. She serves on the boards of the McDowell Colony, the Sundance Institute, the Lilly Awards, and on the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Elsa Rael has received a NY State CAPS Grant for Playwriting and First Prize in the Atlanta Theatre Guild Playwriting Competition. She has nine plays produced in regional theatres that are still running, two of which have been published by Samuel French. In partnership with Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre, she founded and produced POW – Professional Older Women’s Theatre – a festival of 33 plays in which the main character was a women over the age of 50. For this project, the Governor of New York presented Rael the Eleanor Roosevelt Centennial Award. Invited to the White House by President Clinton for three successive Easter celebrations, Rael read her book, Marushka’s Egg to children. In 2014, the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, which Rael co-founded and served as a Past President, named their VintAge Award for Advocacy for Women Aging in the Arts and Media for her. She has also served on the board of the League of Professional Theatre Women.
Jeanine Tesori won the Tony Award for Best Original Score with Lisa Kron for the musical Fun Home, which is currently playing on Broadway. She has also written Tony-nominated scores for Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center; Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan); Caroline, or Change (lyrics, Tony Kushner); and Shrek The Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). The production of Caroline, or Change at the National Theatre in London received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her 1997 Off-Broadway musical Violet (lyrics, Brian Crawley) opened on Broadway in 2014 and garnered four Tony nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Opera: A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy, Kennedy Center). Music for plays: Mother Courage (dir. George C. Wolfe, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline), John Guare’s A Free Man of Color (Lincoln Center Theater, dir. George C. Wolfe), and Romeo and Juliet (Delacorte Gala). Film scores: Nights in Rodanthe, Every Day, and You’re Not You. Ms. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild and was cited by the ASCAP as the first female composer to have “two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway.” She is the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center at New York City Center, and is a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Most of all, she is the proud parent of Siena Rafter, a senior at LaGuardia High School for the Arts.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, the permanent home of Signature Theatre, is a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects to host Signature’s three distinct playwrights’ residencies and foster a cultural community. The Center is a major contribution to New York City’s cultural landscape and provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, a bookstore, and Signature Café and Bar, open to public from noon-midnight Tuesdays – Sundays. For more information on renting the Center, please visit www.signaturetheatre.org/rentals.
The League of Professional Theatre Women is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. It presents numerous events each year as part of its mission to promote visibility and increase opportunities for women in the field. None of its work is possible without generous philanthropic support. The League recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, and boasts a membership of nearly 500 women theatre professionals in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. League members are actors, administrators, agents, arrangers, casting directors, choreographers, company managers, composers, critics, designers, directors, dramaturges, dramatists, educators, general managers, historians, journalists, librettists, lyricists, press agents, playwrights, producers, stage managers, and theatre technicians. To find out more about how you can support its endeavors, please visit the website http://www.theatrewomen.org and click on the “Support Us” tab.
Other articles by Lia Chang:
Dael Orlandersmith, Caridad Svich, Jenny Lyn Bader, Lee Hunkins, Kara Lee Corthron and Fengar Gael Talk Playwrighting with the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Co-president Maxine Kern at Theater Lab
Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Jen Bender, Lia Chang, Derek McLane, Matt Britten and Lorenzo Thione Set for 2nd Annual Broadway Hackathon at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on April 18
Two-time Tony Nominee and Gotta Dance Star André De Shields Included in New Spring 2016 Edition of The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™
Internationally Acclaimed Playwright Velina Hasu Houston named Distinguished Professor at the USC School of Dramatic Arts
Lia Chang and Garth Kravits’ HIDE AND SEEK Screens in 11th Annual DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon on May 1; Complete Lineup
Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015; Additional $7,500 citations for Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday” and Jen Silverman’s “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane”
Sandra Oh, Sola Bamis, Corey Brill and Raymond Lee Star in South Coast Repertory’s World Premiere of Julia Cho’s OFFICE HOUR, April 10-30
Lily Mariye Talks Directing “Nashville,” the Disney-ABC Creative Talent Development Program and What’s Next
East West Players to Honor Broadway’s ALLEGIANCE, Hit TV Show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Founding Artistic Director Tisa Chang at 50th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction on April 25
Photos: Denise Burse, Chinaza Uche and More in Kimber Lee’s “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” at Seattle Rep through April 24
Thom Sesma, Greg Watanabe and Jeanne Sakata Set for A SINGLE SHARD at People’s Light, April 27 – May 29
Maxine Hong Kingston to Receive Randolph College Pearl S. Buck Award on April 20
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, Ellen Burstyn, Bobby Cannavale and Paola Lázaro-Muñoz at The Drama Book Shop for BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Reading and Signing
Broadway Vet Gedde Watanabe and MISS SAIGON’s Jon Jon Briones Lead the Cast of East West Players’ Production of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, May 12 – June 26
Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang and singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Leehom Wang to Receive Honorary Degrees from Williams College
Closing Night Party of Encores! 1776 with André De Shields, Santino Fontana, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, Ann Harada at New York City Center
Mia Katigbak, Jojo Gonzalez, Tonya Pinkins, Cory Michael Smith, Andre Holland, Jessica Hagedorn and More Celebrate Opening Night of Ma-Yi Theater Company’s HOUSE RULES
Garth Kravits and Benjamin Halstead win TUNE IN TIME Musical Theater Song Writing Competition at The York Theatre
“Sunny Side Up” on Sprout, starring Emily Borromeo, Carly Ciarrocchi, Kaitlin Becker and Tim Kubart, Receives Daytime Emmy Nod for Best Pre-School Children’s Series
Q & A with Emmanuel Brown, Actor, Award-Winning Fight Choreographer and Champion Martial Artist
Multimedia: Garth Kravits Featured on Latest Episode of Joel B. New’s SOMETHING NEW Podcast
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF produces promotional films for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers and musicians. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.