Photo Coverage: Redgrave, Douglas & More Honor James Earl Jones with Monte Cristo Prize
Yesterday, May 9, The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center presented its annual Monte Cristo Award to legendary Broadway and screen actor James Earl Jones, in recognition of his monumental achievements and contributions to the American and international theater community. The award was presented to Mr. Jones at a gala dinner that included special guests and performers Tony Award-nominee Michael Berresse ([title of show], Kiss Me Kate); Chris Chalk (Fences),; Academy Award-winner Michael Douglas (Wall Street); Emmy Award-winner Charles S Dutton (The Piano Lesson, "Roc"); Tony Award nominee Penny Fuller (Dividing the Estate, The Dinner Party); Tony Award-winner Boyd Gaines (Driving Miss Daisy, Gypsy); Oscar, Tony and Emmy Award-winner Vanessa Redgrave (Driving Miss Daisy, Long Days Journey Into Night); Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven Guitars); Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams (On Golden Pond, King Hedley II); and Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Executive Director Preston Whiteway.
The program for the evening included an introduction by Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Executive Director, Preston Whiteway, followed by a selection of readings looking back on Mr. Jones' career. These included a scene from The Merchant of Venice, featuring Ruben Santiago Hudson and Kate MacCluggage, a selection from August Wilson's Fences with Charles S Dutton and Chris Chalk, a piece from Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy performed by Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines, which were followed by musical numbers from artists close to Mr. Jones, including Leslie Uggams, who presented Jones with the award.
The Monte Cristo Award is given to a prominent theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O'Neill's "pioneering spirit, artistic commitment, and standard of excellence." Past recipients of the Award include Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur & Barbara Gelb and Wendy Wasserstein.
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence. The O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway and major regional theaters.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.