Huntington to Honor Mayor Walsh & Billy Porter at 2017 SPOTLIGHT SPECTACULAR

Huntington to Honor Mayor Walsh & Billy Porter at 2017 SPOTLIGHT SPECTACULAR

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Tony and Grammy Award-winning artist and Topdog/Underdog director Billy Porter will be honored with the Wimberly Award at the 2017 Spotlight Spectacular on Monday, April 24, 2017. The Huntington's festive annual event raises money to support the Huntington's programs, including its award-winning youth, education, and community initiatives that reach more than 39,000 annually.

"Mayor Walsh is deeply committed to the arts in Boston," says Managing Director Michael Maso. "During his tenure, his office has worked to ensure that arts and culture remain a top priority in the city. Mayor Walsh played the critical role in helping the Huntington stay on Huntington Avenue and thanks to his leadership the Huntington will be continuing our work for generations to come. Everyone who cares about theatre in Boston and the Huntington's role in our cultural community is in his debt. It is a privilege to be able to honor him at the Spotlight Spectacular."

"Billy Porter has created magic on the Huntington's stage with his sizzling remount of George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum in 2015 and with this season's dynamic, expertly crafted Topdog/Underdog," says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "Billy has proven that he is a man of boundless talent, and we are delighted to honor Billy's work at the Huntington and his many contributions to the American theatre community."

The Huntington's Spotlight Spectacular event raises money to support the Huntington's programs, including its award-winning youth, education, and community initiatives that reach more than 32,000 students and 7,000 community members annually. Guests will be treated to entertainment by Wimberly Award recipient Billy Porter (Tony Award Winner for Kinky Boots on Broadway), Aimee Doherty (Sunday in the Park with George and A Little Night Music at the Huntington), Telly Leung (In Transit, Allegiance, Godspell, and Wicked on Broadway), and Ken Robinson (The Colored Museum at the Huntington).

The event is co-chaired by Betsy and David Epstein and Sharon and Brad Malt and designed by Rafanelli Events. The lights come up at 6pm at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts and will feature a cocktail reception, live auction offering one-of-a-kind items including tickets and backstage tours to Hamilton, Kinky Boots, andPresent Laughter on Broadway, a seated dinner catered by MAX Ultimate Food, presentation of the Wimberly Awards, and great entertainment. The Gerard & Sherryl Cohen Award for Excellence, given to two Huntington staff members who consistently go above and beyond in their contribution to the company, will be presented to Associate Technical Director Adam Godbout and Manager of Education Operations Meg O'Brien. Guests will also have the opportunity to "Sponsor-a-Class" in support of the Huntington's Student Matinee program and other education initiatives. Additional funds to support the Huntington will be raised through an online auction that will run through April 28, 2017.

For more information about the event or to sponsor a table or purchase tickets, contact Kirsten Doyle at 617 273 1503 or kdoyle@huntingtontheatre.org.

The 2016 Spotlight Spectacular honored outgoing Board Chairman Carol G. Deane. The event raised over $1,000,000 and was attended by over 400 guests.

ABOUT THE HONOREES:

Billy Porter is the 2013 Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Lola in the Best Musical Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots. His directing credits at the Huntington include The Colored Museum and Topdog/Underdog (which just received five Elliot Norton Award nominations including Best Director for Mr. Porter). He was recently seen on Broadway in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Mr. Porter's one-man show Ghetto Superstar (2005 GLAAD Media Award nomination, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Performer of the Year 2003-2004) debuted at The Public Theater in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh. His other directing credits include Company; HAM: A Musical Memoir with Sam Harris; The Wiz; Being Alive; Twilight in Manchego; Once on This Island (NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction); The Soul of Richard Rodgers; Five Guys Named Moe; Altar Boyz; Rent (Associate Director, Off Broadway revival); Patina Miller Live at The Delfonte Room (London); and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder (starring Chaka Khan). His Broadway album, Billy's Back on Broadway (Concord Records) was released in 2014. His single Edelweiss: #blessourhomeland was released in January and the full album, Billy Porter Presents the Soul of Richard Rodgers will be released in April. Some of his film and television include The Broken Hearts Club, The Humbling, Billy Porter: Broadway & Soul (PBS), "Law & Order," and "The Get Down." As a playwright, Mr. Porter was represented Off Broadway in 2014 with the premiere of While I Yet Live starring S. Epatha Merkerson (Primary Stages). A Pittsburgh native, he received his BFA in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a graduate of UCLA's professional program in screenwriting.

Martin J. Walsh, a lifelong champion of working people and a proud product of the City of Boston, was sworn in as the city's 54th mayor on January 6, 2014. Mayor Walsh's vision is of a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston - a city with equality and opportunity for all, where a revolutionary history inspires creative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. Since taking office, Mayor Walsh has focused on strengthening Boston's schools, adding hundreds of high-quality pre-kindergarten seats, funding extended learning time and advanced curriculum at more schools, and securing tuition-free community college for Boston Public Schools graduates. The Mayor has led Boston to the forefront of the global innovation economy by attracting industry-leading private sector employers, upgrading the city's digital infrastructure, and using technology to transform government services - from a parking meter payment app to a new City website. At the same time, he has created powerful tools for low-income workers, including a "learn and earn" job apprenticeship program and an Office of Financial Empowerment. He is the founding vice-chair of the Cities of Opportunity Task Force at the US Conference of Mayors, elevating the national conversation on income inequality. The Walsh Administration has addressed the tremendous need for housing in the city with an ambitious plan, setting records for new affordable and middle-class homes. In addition, it has built a state-of-the-art homeless shelter and gotten the city on a path to effectively ending chronic homelessness. The Administration has been hailed by the White House for expanding young people's opportunities and breaking new ground in crime prevention and police-community relations. Other milestones include the nation's first municipal Office of Recovery Services to prevent and treat substance abuse; the city's first Cultural Plan in a generation, to restore Boston's identity as an arts leader; and, in a sign of strong fiscal management and economic policy, the city's first perfect AAA bond ratings, unlocking unprecedented investments in parks, libraries, and public safety. Finally, the Mayor has invited the people of Boston to help build a blueprint for the city's future in Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide plan in half a century. Before taking office, Mayor Walsh served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he was a leader on job creation and worker protections; substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness; K-12 education; and civil rights. He played a key role defending Massachusetts' pioneering stand on marriage equality. Mayor Walsh also made his mark as a labor leader. After following his father into Laborers Local 223 in Boston, he rose to head the Building and Construction Trades Council from 2011 to 2013. He worked with business and community leaders to promote high-quality development, and he created a program called Building Pathways that has become a model for increasing diversity in the workplace and providing good career opportunities for women and people of color. Born and raised in the neighborhood of Dorchester by immigrant parents, Mayor Walsh is driven to make sure Boston is a city where anyone can overcome their challenges and fulfill their dreams. As a child, Mayor Walsh survived a serious bout of Burkett's lymphoma, thanks to the extraordinary care he received at Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His recovery from alcoholism as a young adult led to his lifelong commitment to the prevention and treatment of addiction. While working full-time as a legislator, he returned to school to earn a degree in political science at Boston College. Mayor Walsh continues to reside in Dorchester, where he shares his life with longtime partner Lorrie Higgins.

Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride


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