Vice President Biden, James Earl Jones, Scott Bakula, Debbie Allen, and More Come to Ford's Theatre Gala
Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, House Majority Leader Elect Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, actress Debbie Allen, members of Congress and other distinguished guests attended the Ford's Theatre Annual Gala the evening of Sunday, June 22, 2014, at Ford's Theatre (511 10th Street NW). The gala performance was followed by a seated dinner at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (750 Ninth Street NW). The evening included the presentation of the Ford's Theatre Lincoln Medal to actor James Earl Jones and the U.S. House of Representatives' longest-serving member, The Honorable John D. Dingell. The award was given in recognition of their extraordinary character, service, accomplishments and work reflecting Lincoln's legacy of humanity, wisdom, eloquence and vision.
During the performance at Ford's Theatre, Dr. Jill Biden introduced a moving tribute to four outstanding educators, recognizing their positive and lasting contributions to the society in which we live. The four teachers honored were: Pearl Arredondo, founder of the San Fernando Institute for Applied Media and a Teaching Policy Fellow at Teach Plus; Tiffany Ross, a fourth-grade teacher at Marie H. Reed Elementary School in Washington, D.C., and a winner of the The Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award; Moosa Shah, a science teacher at Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, Virginia, and a winner of the The Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award; and Lou Volpe, recently retired from Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, after 44 years of teaching, who was honored with the first-ever "Music Theatre International Achievement Award for Theatre Education" and who was featured in Michael Sokolove's book Drama High. Vice President Joe Biden gave remarks to close the performance.
Additional highlights from the Ford's Theatre Annual Gala included a joyful chorus of Pharrell Williams' "Happy" performed by Scott Bakula and the ensemble, the flirtatious aria "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß" (My lips' fiery kiss) from Giuditta performed by soprano Alyson Cambridge, Lennon and Maisy Stella singing "Ho Hey" (originally by The Lumineers), So You Think You Can Dance's Melinda Sullivan performing to "I Could Have Danced All Night" as sung by Tony Winner Laura Benanti, Cheyenne Jackson performing "I'm Blue, Skies," and more.
First Lady Michelle Obama served as the honorary chair of the gala celebration. Honorary co-chairs were Mrs. Landra Reid, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Mrs. Cynthia Rogers, Mrs. Deborah I. Dingell, Dr. Sharon Malone, Mrs. Marlene A. Malek, Mrs. Catherine B. Reynolds and Mrs. Doreen B. Spiegel.
The Ford's Theatre Annual Gala benefits the Ford's Theatre Society and its programming, including exhibits at the Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership (opened February 2012). This event is made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor General Dynamics and with additional support from American Airlines, the official airline of Ford's Theatre. Ford's Theatre gratefully acknowledges Gloria Story Dittus and Story Partners for their support of the 2014 Lincoln Medal Presentation.
The Lincoln Medal is an annual award given by the Ford's Theatre Society to a person or persons who, through their body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy, and mettle of character embodied by the most beloved President in our nation's history, President Abraham Lincoln. Past recipients of the Lincoln Medal include Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel; human rights activists Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Justice Albie Sachs; filmmaker George Lucas; actors Ruby Dee, Morgan Freeman and Sidney Poitier; Dr. Maya Angelou; Congressman John Lewis; singer Aretha Franklin; and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Former Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court.
Ford's Theatre Society
One of the most visited sites in the nation's capital, Ford's Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford's Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford's Theatre is the premier destination in the nation's capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln's ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.
The Ford's Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producer Frankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford's as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theatregoing public have recognized Ford's for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith and Necessary Sacrifices, Ford's Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. Under the leadership of Wayne R. Reynolds, Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus (Chairman 2007 to 2012), the mission of Ford's Theatre Society expanded to include education as a central pillar. This expansion led to the creation and construction of the Center for Education and Leadership, which opened in February 2012. Currently, under the leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Eric A. Spiegel, Ford's enters a second phase of strategic planning to ensure the organization's place as a national destination for exploring Lincoln's legacy and the American experience through the intersection of history, performance and education.
Photo Credit: Margot Schulman