John Stamos, Neil Meron & Craig Zadan, Robert Greenblatt to Chair 2017 Mr. Abbott Award Gala Honoring Kenny Leon

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDC Foundation), the not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), announces Robert Greenblatt, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning producer and Chairman of NBC Entertainment (The Wiz LIVE! and Hairpsray LIVE!), and John Stamos, star of stage and screen (Full House), as honorary co-chairs, and Neil Meron and Craig Zadan of Storyline Entertainment - Zadan/Meron Productions (Chicago, Hairpsray LIVE!) as co-chairs of the 2017 "Mr. Abbott" Award Gala honoring Kenny Leon.

Mr. Leon is receiving the award in recognition of the outstanding artistry and creativity of his forty-year (and counting) career. The Award will be presented at a gala event on March 27 at espace in New York City.

As honorary co-chairs, Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Stamos join Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson, 2013 "Mr. Abbott Award" winner Jerry Mitchell, and Denzel and Pauletta Washington.

Co-chairs Mr. Meron and Mr. Zadan join SDC Executive Board Members Oz Scott and Michael Wilson.

SDC Executive Director Laura Penn stated, "It's thrilling to see such an illustrious gathering of entertainment leaders and stars rallying around Kenny Leon and the SDC Foundation. It demonstrates a real recognition of the contributions stage directors make to the larger industry and provides an opportunity to for us to celebrate our ever increasing interconnection."

Proceeds from the gala will benefit Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.

Host Committee members include: Joy Abbott, Karen Azenberg, Mark Brokaw, Valerie Mosley, Susan H. Schulman, Leigh Silverman, The Broadway League, Creative Artists Agency, Penn State University School of Theatre, Pryor Cashman LLP, The Shubert Organization, Temple University, True Colors Theatre Company, University of Rochester.

The "Mr. Abbott" Award, presented by SDC Foundation on behalf of directors and choreographers to one of their peers, is named in honor of the late renowned stage director George Abbott. It is presented in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the field. Past recipients represent the best of the profession and include Michael Bennett, Arvin Brown, Graciela Daniele, Gordon Davidson, Agnes De Mille, Bob Fosse, Garson Kanin, Kathleen and Rob Marshall, Lynne Meadow, Jerry Mitchell, Mike Nichols, Trevor Nunn, Jack O'Brien, Harold Prince, Lloyd Richards, Donald Saddler, Gene Saks, Susan Stroman, Daniel Sullivan, Tommy Tune, George C. Wolfe, Jerry Zaks, and 2015 honoree James Lapine.

The evening's festivities will include an open bar and dinner followed by a tribute performance and dancing. For more information on the evening, visit www.SDCFoundation.org or call (646) 524-2227.

Kenny Leon is a Tony Award-winning Broadway and film director. His Broadway credits include the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun (Tony Award Winner for Best Direction of a Play and Best Revival), The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, Stick Fly produced by Alicia Keys and Nelle Nugent, August Wilson's Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (which garnered ten Tony nominations and won three Tony Awards including Best Revival), the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun with Sean P. Diddy Combs, Audra McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf, and the 2014 premiere of Holler if Ya Hear Me, a new musical created using the music of Tupac Shakur. Off- Broadway credits have included critically-acclaimed productions of Thulani Davis' Everybody's Ruby at The Public Theater and Lydia Diamond's Smart People at Second Stage, among others. Leon's recent TV and film work includes Hairspray LIVE! and The Wiz LIVE! both for NBC/Storyline Entertainment, In My Dreams for HallMark Hall of Fame, The Watsons go to Birmingham for Walden Media and Hallmark, episodes of Private Practice and Ghost Whisperer, A Raisin in the Sun for Sony Pictures Television, and the Sony and Lifetime TV adaptation of Steel Magnolias. Leon was awarded the 2010 Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing by the Drama League of New York.

Prior to co-founding True Colors Theatre Company, he served 11 years as Artistic Director of the ALLIANCE THEATRE, where he produced the premieres of Disney's Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky and Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Other directorial credits include Toni Morrison's opera Margaret Garner, the world premiere of Flashdance: The Musical, and the complete August Wilson Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center. He has directed extensively throughout the US, including at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Boston's Huntington Theatre, Baltimore's Center Stage, Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group, and New York's Public Theater. Leon is also the Co-Founder of the National August Wilson Monologue Competition for high school students, a national education program teaching reading comprehension, public speaking, and performance techniques through the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. Mr. Leon is an alumni of Clark Atlanta University.

For more information about the "Mr. Abbott" Award and other SDC Foundation programs, visit sdcfoundation.org/recognition-advocacy/the-mr-abbott-award.

For 50 years, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has developed and promoted the creativity and craft of directors and choreographers. SDC Foundation's mission is to create access to the field, to connect artists, and to honor the theatrical legacy of these artists. The centrality of the director's role in theatre and the impact that they have on other artists' careers-from playwrights to designers to actors- makes SDC Foundation's services essential to the theatre industry's health and continued vitality.

Through mentorship programs, community forums and public events, SDC Foundation constructs paths for early-career directors and choreographers from all backgrounds to interact with established artists around the country, puts mid-career artists in the room together to debate and solve issues they face in the business, and reaches beyond the theatre industry to tell the story of what directors and choreographers contribute to the art form. In a discipline that can often feel isolating, SDC Foundation serves the needs of artists at all stages, building a cross-generational theatre community. Visit www.sdcfoundation.org for more information.


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