Danny Burstein, Katrina Lenk, Ethan Slater, and More to Honor August Wilson and David Yazbek at Theatre Forward Gala

Danny Burstein, Katrina Lenk, Ethan Slater, and More to Honor August Wilson and David Yazbek at Theatre Forward Gala

Theatre Forward and Chairman John Thomopoulous will lead a celebration to support American theatre at the annual Chairman's Awards Gala on Monday, April 9th at The Pierre New York (2 East 61st Street at Fifth Avenue). The Chairman's Awards Gala supports the work of Theatre Forward, currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary season, which is dedicated to advancing American theatres and its communities through its Educating Through Theatre and Advancing Strong Theatre initiatives.

The works of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner August Wilson (Fences, The Piano Lesson, Jitney) will be honored this spring with the Legacy Award, Tony Award® nominee DAVID YAZBEK (The Band's Visit, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty) will be honored with the Creative Achievement Award and CITI will receive the 40th Anniversary Corporate Leadership Award.

Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, Bullets Over Broadway) will present the Legacy Award for the works of August Wilson, six-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof) will present the Creative Achievement Award to David Yazbek and LORT President and Guthrie Managing Director JENNIFER BIELSTEINwill present the 40th Anniversary Corporate Leadership Award to Citi.

The event will also include performances by KATRINA LENK (The Band's Visit, Indecent) and the musicians of THE BAND'S VISIT, Tony Award winner BETH LEAVEL (The Drowsy Chaperone) and MATTHEW SKLAR (The Wedding Singer) performing a number from the upcoming musical comedy THE PROM, KATHRYN BOSTIC (Gem Of the Ocean, The August Wilson Symphony) performing a musical tribute to August Wilson with EDDIE ALLEN (acclaimed Jazz trumpeter) and CARRIE ST. LOUIS (Wicked, Rock of Ages), TELLY LEUNG (Aladdin), JULIA MURNEY (Wicked, Hair) and ZAK RESNICK (Mamma Mia!, Piece of My Heart) performing a 40th Anniversary medley music directed and arranged byGERALDINE ANELLO and choreographed by PATRICK O'NEILL. Additionally, there will be a special toast held for CAREY PERLOFF, outgoing Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater and GEORGE SMITH, former Theatre Forward Board Member and ETHAN SLATER (SpongeBob SquarePants) and TAYLOR LOUDERMAN (Mean Girls) will discuss the importance of theatre education.


The Gala will include cocktails, dinner, and performances, as well as a live and silent auction. Auction proceeds will benefit the creation of theatrical works and theatre education programs across the country serving 500,000 students. The Patron and Co-Chair Tables are priced at $25,000. Benefactor Tables are priced at $15,000 and Sponsor Tables are priced at $10,000. Ticket pricing is as follows: $2,500 (Patron Ticket), $1,000 (Individual Ticket). Journal ads and Sponsorships are also available.

For ticket information contact Natalie Ault at (212) 750-6895 or nault@theatreforward.org


August Wilson (April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005) authored Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans brought to North America, decade-by-decade over the course of the twentieth century, and together, they form a compilation entitled The American Century Cycle. His plays have been produced on Broadway, at regional theaters across the country and all over the world. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. His works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. His early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming, and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award and the Heinz Award. He was awarded the 1999 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street - The August Wilson Theatre. Today, he is considered one of America's Finest Playwrights. New York Public Radio recorded all ten plays in The American Century Cycle at the Greene Space, casting many of the actors that worked on the original productions. PBS aired a documentary on Mr. Wilson entitled, "The Ground On Which I Stand," as part of the American Masters series. Recent Broadway productions of Fences and Jitney received Tony Awards for Best Revival. In December of 2016, a full feature film of August Wilson'sFences was released for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and Viola Davis won an Academy Award for her performance as Rose. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death in 2005. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari Wilson and Azula Romero Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero Wilson, who is the executor of his estate.

David Yazbek's varied career as a recording artist, Emmy Award-winning TV and screenwriter, music producer, and pianist has somehow led him to become one of Broadway's preeminent composer/lyricists. His shows, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown have received a combined 24 Tony Award nominations, including three for Best Score. His newest musical, The Band's Visit, earned him an Obie, New York Drama Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle and two Drama Desk awards for the Off-Broadway engagement at Atlantic Theatre Company. As a recording artist, Yazbek is responsible for five albums: The Laughing Man, Tock, Damascus, Tape Recorder and Evil Monkey Man. He has written and/or produced for such acts as XTC, Ruben Blades, The Persuasions, Joe Jackson, Tito Puente and many others. He also produced the original cast albums of his Broadway shows. He has three Grammy Award® nominations. In the past couple of years, he has scored the final season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," composed music for Larry David's Fish in the Dark and written songs and music for Much Ado About Nothing at Central Park's Delacorte Theater, all while opening productions of Scoundrels and Women on the Verge in London's West End. In past lives, he has written dozens of scripts and many songs for television and film, won an Emmy Award® for his stint on "Late Night with David Letterman" and wrote the unrelenting theme song for "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

CITI, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Citi has supported Theatre Forward for 25 years and is one of their longest continuous supporters with operations in major markets across the US including New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.


Theatre Forward is devoted to advancing the American theatre and its communities by providing funding and other resources to the country's leading nonprofit theatres. Through its network of leading corporate, foundation and individual funders, as well as regional theatres, Theatre Forward aims to increase access and opportunity for all to experience theatre that builds community and sets the stage for individual achievement by advancing strong theatre and educating through theatre.

Theatre Forward is an association of institutional nonprofit theatres located in 19 cities across the country.

Theatre Forward, formerly National Corporate Theatre Fund, was created in 1977 by our 10 founding member theatres. Today, Theatre Forward theatres include The Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre, ALLIANCE THEATRE, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, Cleveland Play House, Dallas Theater Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Long Warf Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Old Globe, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company, and Walnut Street Theatre.

For more information, please visit theatreforward.org.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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