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BWW Interview: Women in Theatre- Spotlight on the Lilly Awards Foundation and Georgia Stitt!


On Monday, November 10, The Lilly Awards Foundation with the Broadway at Birdland Series will soon present The Lilly Awards Broadway Cabaret: An evening of showstoppers written by women and performed by Broadway's Best to benefit The Lilly Awards Foundation whose mission is to promote gender parity at all levels of theatrical production, and develop and celebrate the work of women in the theater. The evening will be directed by Daisy Prince, musical direction by Georgia Stitt and co-produced by Amanda Green and Georgia Stitt.

Guest performers will include Brooks Ashmanskas, David Beach, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jenn Colella, Gretchen Cryer, Jason Danieley, Katrina Rose Dideriksen, Nancy Ford, Matt Gallagher, Adam Guettel, Caitlin Kinnunen, Sydney Lucas, Debra Monk, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Cass Morgan, Jim Newman, Keala Settle, Douglas Sills, Dale Soules, Elizabeth Stanley, Maria Thayer, Jessica Vosk, Adrienne Warren, Kate Wetherhead, and The Broadway Boys, with special appearances by Jason Robert Brown, Carol Hall, Steven Pasquale, and Valerie Vigoda. The evening will be directed by Daisy Prince, musical direction by Georgia Stitt and co-produced by Amanda Green and Georgia Stitt.

Below, Stitt shares with BroadwayWorld her history with the organization, what to expect from the concert and more!

How did you become involved with the Lilly Awards Foundation?

Marsha Norman asked me to be involved about a year ago. In my understanding, The Lilly Awards were originally created to celebrate female playwrights who were doing significant work and not being recognized for it. During the first four years that The Lillys existed, the awards ceremony was growing in both size and reputation. Last year, as it was bursting at the seams, the organization decided to include composers and lyricists, which meant the whole world of musicals was available to us. At the same time, the Lillys officially gained their not-for-profit status. At this year's awards ceremony in June, I organized a cabaret that celebrated songs written by women, and we got some of Broadway's finest performers to sing them. It was loads of fun and a big success.

What/who are you most looking forward to in this year's cabaret?

Well, I have the unique privilege of being the only person who's hearing all of the rehearsals this week. There are some pretty spectacular performances in the works. At the risk of leaving out someone I love, I will say that I'm most excited to hear Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford sing "Old Friend," a song that's at the very top of the list of songs I wish I'd written. Jesse Nager's group The Broadway Boys has written a new tight-harmony arrangement of an Ahrens and Flaherty song, and we've got Douglas Sills and Jason Danieley singing "Lily's Eyes" from THE SECRET GARDEN. And, of course, I've got Jessica Vosk, Heidi Blickenstaff and Caitlin Kinnunen singing one of my own songs from my still-being-written show THE DANGER YEAR. But mostly I'm looking forward to sitting at the piano at the center of all of this rich material and these brilliant singers. It's going to be such an inspiring evening.

Have you seen strides being made in gender parity in the industry in recent years?

I think everywhere I go, people are talking about gender parity in the theater. The conversations I have as I'm traveling to theaters and arts education programs express a kind of awareness about the issues that certainly wasn't there before. I see many organizations asking the right questions and I'm reading more and more articles, both in the US and in the UK, about theaters and theater groups that are trying to get as close to 50/50 as they can. There are websites like The Interval and initiatives like the Kilroys List and, frankly, The Lilly Awards, that are making sure that the women in this industry are not invisible. That doesn't feel like the end of the conversation, but yeah, I see strides.

Who are some women in the industry that you admire/have influenced you and your work?

Marsha Norman. Carol Burnett. Mary Mitchell Campbell. Mary Rodgers. But beyond my own industry, some other heroes of mine include Tina Fey, Ursula Hegi, The Indigo Girls and Joan Tower.

What does it mean to you to be a part of this kind of organization?

I lived in Los Angeles for eight years, and though there were many wonderful things about that chapter of my life, I have to admit that I felt like I was watching the theater world from afar - reading reviews of shows I couldn't get to see and clicking "like" on my social media to support the events I couldn't attend. Within months of moving back to NYC, I was on the board of directors for The Lillys. For the first time in ages, I thought - 'they see me.'

The Lilly Awards Broadway Cabaret is Monday, November 10th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Birdland, located at 315 W. 44th Street in NYC.

The Lilly Awards Foundation Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote gender parity at all levels of theatrical production, as well as develop, celebrate and advocate for the work of women in the theater. To those ends, the Lilly Awards Foundation produces a yearly awards ceremony called The Lilly Awards which recognizes outstanding contributions to the theater made by women writers, composers, directors and designers; designs and initiates programs to raise awareness of gender bias within the hiring and producing practices of theaters; endeavors to change the artistic choices of theaters and residency programs nationally; and conducts a Count (expected to be released this fall) which will determine how many women writers and artists are being hired and produced by American theaters of all sizes.

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