George Takei to Emcee National Corporate Theatre Fund Gala Honoring Vanessa Williams, 4/29

On Monday, April 29th, at New York City's Pierre Hotel, the National Corporate Theatre Fund (NCTF) will honor Vanessa Williams, American Express and five resident theatres celebrating their 50th anniversary - Actors Theatre of Louisville, Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company - at NCTF's annual Chairman's Awards Gala. Actor George Takei, star of the Broadway-bound musical Allegiance, emcees the event.

More than 300 theatre patrons, Broadway leaders and industry professionals from across the country will gather for an evening honoring individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions to The National Theatre community. The gala will raise funds for NCTF member theatres in the U.S., some of America's finest not-for-profit theatres. Ernst & Young and Cisco Systems, Inc. will co-chair the evening's festivities.

James S. Turley, Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, and chairman of NCTF, said, "Central to the founding and success of regional theatre have been corporate partnerships. Ernst & Young is proud to support outstanding theatre programming, as well as the innovative theatre education and outreach initiatives, at NCTF theatres across the U.S."

"NCTF creates and supports exciting partnerships at the intersection of the corporate and arts communities - relationships that are central to the success of theatre and the vitality of communities in which they are based," said Bruce E. Whitacre, Executive Director of NCTF. "It is our privilege to celebrate fifty years of achievement by these outstanding organizations and to acknowledge the instrumental role of the Ford Foundation in the development, and sustained support of these resident theatres across America."

One of the most multi-faceted performers in entertainment today, Vanessa Williams will receive the "Theatre Artist Award." The award will be presented by James Lapine, Tony Award winning director and librettist. Williams has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television. On Broadway, she is returning this season in The Trip to Bountiful and has starred in Kiss of the Spider Woman and Into the Woods among several other productions.

"The theatre community is so fortunate that Ms. Williams has invested her manifold talents in such extraordinary shows over the years," said Whitacre. "We are thrilled to be able to acknowledge her talents and her generosity."

Accepting the "Corporate Leadership Award" on behalf of American Express will be Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. The "Corporate Leadership Award" underscores American Express' commitment to philanthropy, institution-building, community revitalization and the arts.

"The gala honorees share a dedication to theatre and community engagement and its impact on our country's economy, culture and future," Whitacre continued. "American Express was right there at the beginning for these theatres, and continues to be a key partner philanthropically and strategically."

Richard Thomas, Honorary Chairman of NCTF, said, "I have had the good fortune to perform at several of these theatres over the years, especially Hartford Stage, and those experiences have been highlights of my career. I am thrilled to be involved with NCTF to help sustain so many excellent theatres, and especially on this night to honor the 50th anniversary of these five cultural icons at the gala."

Five resident theatres will receive the "50th Anniversary Achievement in Theatre Award." These theatres have established themselves as significant community based institutions helping to revitalize life in these cities. Luis A. Ubiñas, President of the Ford Foundation, will present the award to Actors Theatre of Louisville, Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company. Not only have these theatres staged a wide range of award-winning dramas and musicals, the theatres have also served as laboratories for up-and-coming playwrights, actors and directors. And they have played a key role in enhancing arts education for young people in these communities through a variety of innovative programs based in schools and at the theatres themselves. Accepting on behalf of Actors Theatre of Louisville will be Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein. Accepting on behalf of the Guthrie Theater will be Director Joe Dowling. Accepting on behalf of Hartford Stage will be Managing Director Michael Stotts, Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Board President Jill Adams. Accepting on behalf of Seattle Repertory Theatre will be Managing Director Benjamin Moore, Artistic Director Jerry Manning and Board President Becky Lenaburg. Accepting on behalf of Trinity Repertory Company will be Executive Director Michael Gennaro and The Richard L. Bready Artistic Director Curt Columbus.

National Corporate Theatre Fund (NCTF) is a not-for-profit association dedicated to sustaining America's finest not-for-profit theatres, on the stage and in the community, through innovative partnerships with companies, individuals and artists. From its base in New York, NCTF provides a national vehicle for the flow of theatre, collaboration and ideas to and from key markets.

Since 1978, NCTF has raised millions of dollars for its member theatres. NCTF theatres contribute to our creative and cultural life - benefiting local communities, children, employees and the economy. Launched last year, its Impact Creativity campaign ( is one of the largest efforts to sustain and grow arts education programs across the country. Productions originating at NCTF theatres have transferred to New York and other theatres, and have won dozens of Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes. They enrich lives of the local residents, provide creative opportunities for distinguished and emerging performers, serve as incubators for new works, and engage over 500,000 children, most from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods through their theatre education programs.

NCTF member theatres include The Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Center Theatre Group, Cleveland Play House, Guthrie Theater, Long Warf Theatre, The Old Globe, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company. Their Affiliate Network includes the Alley Theatre, ALLIANCE THEATRE, Arena Stage, Arizona Theatre Company, Dallas Theater Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Hartford Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Walnut Street Theatre.

The following artists serve on NCTF's Artistic Advisory Council, generously donating their time and energy to support NCTF's fundraising and sponsorship initiatives: Edward Asner, Brent Barrett, Annette Bening, Robert Brustein, Kathleen Chalfant, Glenn Close, Billy Crudup, Gordon Davidson, David Henry Hwang, Cherry Jones, Swoosie Kurtz, John Lithgow, Jerry Mitchell, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Pels, David Hyde Pierce, Daryl Roth, Marian Seldes, Patrick Stewart, and Paula Vogel.

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