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Celia Keenan-Bolger, Blair Underwood and More to be Theatre Forward Broadway Roundtable Panelists


Celia Keenan-Bolger, Blair Underwood and More to be Theatre Forward Broadway Roundtable Panelists

How Does Theatre Mirror Society? will be explored along with drawing on the panelists' experiences and perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Topics of the 17th annual Theatre Forward Broadway Roundtable will include an open-ended dialogue about opportunity, access, education and social justice. Panelists all share a passion for the power of storytelling and how it reflects and influences our world.

Moderated by Theatre Forward Executive Director Bruce E. Whitacre, the exclusive luncheon will explore the current Broadway landscape with some of Broadway's leading players and stars, with a panel that includes Blair Underwood, Emmy winner and two-time Golden Globe nominee, actor, director and producer of film, television and theatre; star of A Soldier's Play; Amber Gray, award-winning Actress currently starring in Hadestown (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Escape at Dannemora, and the upcoming The Underground Railroad); Celia Keenan-Bolger, Tony Award-winning actress, most recently in To Kill A Mockingbird, (Peter and The Starcatcher, The Glass Menagerie, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre, Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project; Lois Smith, award-winning actress currently in The Inheritance (Buried Child, The Trip to Bountiful, Ladybird); star of upcoming A Soldier's Play; and Jack Viertel, senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters; original concept, The Prom, artistic director Encores!, author The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built.


Blair Underwood, a true multi-hyphenate, is enjoying success in film, television and theatre, as an actor, director and producer. Underwood has returned to Broadway starring opposite David Alan Grier in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama A Solider's Play for director Kenny Leon and the Roundabout Theatre Company. Underwood recently appeared in the Netflix Emmy-Award winning limited series When They See Us. He also had a recurring role on the Netflix comedy series, Dear White People and can be seen in Clark Johnson's Juanita, opposite Alfre Woodard, also for Netflix. He spent two years as a series regular on the ABC drama series Quantico, while also recurring on another hit ABC drama MARVEL AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. He also had a co-starring role in The After Party, from writer/director Ian Edelman, which Netflix released late in 2018. Past television credits include series regular roles on Dirty Sexy Money, The New Adventures of Old Christine, In Treatment, The Event and L.A. Law. Film credits include Deep Impact, Set It Off, Rules of Engagement, Just Cause, Madea's Family Reunion and Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal. Underwood co-starred opposite Cicely Tyson in the Lifetime telefilm & theatre production of A Trip to Bountiful, based on the Tony Award-winning play. In 2012 he made his acclaimed Broadway debut in the iconic role of Stanley in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he earned a 2012 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nomination. He also starred in Paradise Blue at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Othello at the Old Globe Theatre. Underwood also has several projects in the development pipeline as a director, including Viral, a feature based on a Joe McClean script. In 2010 he made his feature film directing debut with The Bridge to Nowhere, which starred Ving Rhames, Danny Masterson, Bijou Phillips and Alex Breckenridge. Underwood is an Emmy Award-winner (as producer of the philanthropy-centered NBC Saturday morning series Give), a two-time Golden Globe Award nominee, and has been nominated for 17 NAACP Image Awards (seven wins). He won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word as co-narrator of Al Gore's audiobook, An Inconvenient Truth. A newly minted member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he is also active in several philanthropic endeavors.

Amber Gray currently stars as the scene-stealing "Persephone" in the reigning Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Hadestown, for which she received a Tony nomination for "Featured Actress in a Musical" and won the Outer Critics Circle Award in the same category, among numerous honors. She, along with other principle cast members, received the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre album for Hadestown. She has appeared in every iteration of Hadestown's development beginning at New York Theatre Workshop, through Edmonton's Citadel Theatre and London's National Theatre, leading to its current, record-breaking Broadway engagement. She made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 opposite Josh Groban, for which she won the Theatre World Award. Hadestown and Great Comet mark the latest in her long-time theater collaborations with Tony-winning director Rachel Chavkin, and Amber has also memorably starred in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' critically acclaimed An Octoroon and Taylor Mac's Pulitzer Prize finalist A 24-Decade History of Popular Music; plus appeared onstage at Soho Rep, Ars Nova, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Theatre for a New Audience, among countless others. For television, she was most recently seen in Showtime's Emmy-nominated limited series Escape at Dannemora, directed by Ben Stiller and starring Patricia Arquette, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano. She holds an MFA in Acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She can next be seen in Amazon's limited series The Underground Railroad, directed by Barry Jenkins.

Celia Keenan-Bolger was most recently seen as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway for which she received the Tony Award. Broadway: The Cherry Orchard, The Glass Menagerie (Tony Award nomination; Drama Desk and Dorothy Loudon Awards), Peter and the Starcatcher (Tony, Drama Desk, and Drama League Award nomination), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Tony nomination; Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards). Off-Broadway: A Parallelogram, The Oldest Boy, Merrily We Roll Along, Peter and the Starcatcher, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Small Fire, Bachelorette, Juno, Saved, Kindertransport, Little Fish, Summer of '42. Regional: The Glass Menagerie (A.R.T.), Private Lives (White Heron Theatre), Betty's Summer Vacation (Bay Street Theater), Creating Claire (George Street Playhouse), Peter and the Starcatcher (La Jolla Playhouse), The Light in the Piazza (Goodman Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Kennedy Center), Our Town (Intiman Theatre). Film: Diane, Breakable You, The Visit, Mariachi Gringo. Television: "Bull," "Louie," "NCIS: New Orleans," "Blue Bloods," "Good Behavior," "The Good Wife," "Elementary," Nurse Jackie," "Heartland," "Law & Order: SVU," "The Education of Max Bickford." Education: University of Michigan.

JACOB G. PADRÓN became Long Wharf Theatre's 5th Artistic Director in February 2019. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project, a national theatre initiative established in 2016 that partners with leading theatre companies to amplify the voices of Latinx playwrights and build artistic homes for artists of color. Jacob G. Padrón was the Senior Line Producer at The Public Theater from 2013 to 2016 where he worked on new plays, new musicals, Shakespeare in the Park, and Public Works. From 2011 to 2013, he was the Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company overseeing artistic programming in the Garage, their space for new work, new artists, and new audiences. From 2008 to 2011, he was an Associate Producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he was instrumental in producing all shows in the 11-play repertory. Jacob was most recently on stai?? at Time Warner (HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner) in Cultural Investments, identifying diverse storytellers for media projects. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Yale School of Drama.

Lois Smith currently in The Inheritance on Broadway. Recent Credits include: I Was Most Alive with You (Playwrights Horizons), Peace for Mary Frances (New Group), and the films Ladybird and Marjorie Prime (adapted from the play she performed at Playwrights Horizons). Favorite earlier credits: The Young and Beautiful (long ago), The Grapes of Wrath, Buried Child, The Trip to Bountiful (Signature Theater). Awards: 2 Obie Awards, 2 Tony nominations, NY Critics, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Awards. Upcoming film: Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and Alan Ball's Uncle Frank.

Jack Viertel is the senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns and operates five Broadway theaters. He has been involved in dozens of productions presented by Jujamcyn since 1987, including multiple Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winners, from City of Angels to Angels in America. He has also helped shepherd six of August Wilson's plays to Broadway. He is the artistic director of New York City Center's acclaimed Encores! series, which presents three musical productions every season. In that capacity he has overseen 57 shows, for some of which he adapted the scripts. He conceived the long-running Smokey Joe's Cafe and the critically acclaimed After Midnight and has been a creative consultant on many shows, including Hairspray, A Christmas Story, and Dear Evan Hansen. He was the Mark Taper Forum's dramaturg and the drama critic and arts editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and he spent a decade teaching musical theater at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

The event will take place on Friday, January 31, 2020 at UBS Private Dining Room, 1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York City.

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