James Earl Jones Awarded O'Neill's Monte Cristo Award, 5/9

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center will present its annual Monte Cristo Award to legendary Broadway and screen actor James Earl Jones, in recognition of his monumental achievements and contributions to the American and international theater community. The award will be presented to Mr. Jones at a gala dinner held in his honor at Bridgewaters - South Street Seaport in New York City on Monday, May 9th at 6:30pm.

Honorary Committee Members include: Jane Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Courtney B. Vance & Angela Bassett, Matthew Broderick, Pat Daily, Charles S. Dutton, Boyd Gaines, Kelsey Grammer, TEd Hartley, Vanessa Redgrave, Anika Noni Rose, Susan Stroman, Leslie Uggams, Alfred Uhry, and Catherine Zeta-Jones ; O'Neill Chairman Thomas Viertel; O'Neill Founder George C. White; and O'Neill Trustees Michael Douglas, Dina Merrill, Stephen Hendel & Ruth Hendel, Harold Prince, and Betsy White.

James Earl Jones has enjoyed tremendous success as an actor since his Broadway debut in 1957. Over the last 50 years he has lent his talents to dozens of productions, including; Henry V, Sunrise at Campobello, The Cool World, Danton's Death, A Hand Is on the Gate, The Great White Hope,The Blood Knot, Boseman and Lena," Master Harold"...and the boys, Les Blancs, The Iceman Cometh, Of Mice and Men, Paul Robeson, A Lesson From Aloes, Othello, Fences, On Golden Pond,and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Mr. Jones is currently starring on Broadway with Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines in Driving Miss Daisy, and will be seen in the 2012 Broadway production of Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Mr. Jones is often recognized for his voice work in films such as Star Wars and The Lion King, and he has led an impressive career in film and television, including roles in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Great White Hope, Gabriel's Fire, Malcom X, Coming to America, Field of Dreams, Clear and Present Danger, Cry, the Beloved Country, and many others.

Mr. Jones has received two Tony Awards. First in 1969 for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope (which garnered him an Oscar Nomination and Golden Globe for the 1970 film adaptation), and again in 1987 for August Wilson's Fences. Mr. Jones was also nominated for his role in On Golden Pond in 2005. Mr. Jones has recieved four Emmys, two CableACE awards, two OBIEs, five Drama Desk Awards, and a Grammy. In addition, Mr. Jones was honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 for his services to American Culture and was an honoree of the 2002 John F. Kennedy Center Honors. Mr. Jones was also honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

The Monte Cristo Award is given to a prominent theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O'Neill's "pioneering spirit, artistic commitment, and standard of excellence." Past recipients of the Award include Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur & Barbara Gelb and Wendy Wasserstein.

O'Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked "James Earl Jones defines the ethos of the Monte Cristo Award - pioneering, artistically excellent, and a commitment to the stage. His connection to the O'Neill and the late Lloyd Richards is deep, and I look forward to a fantastic and fun evening in May."

An announcement of the evening's entertainment and program will be made shortly.

For table and ticket reservations or more information about the O'Neill's Monte Cristo Award dinner, please contact Suzanne Hendrix at : 860-443-5378 x217 or shendrix@theoneill.org.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence.

The O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway and major regional theaters.

O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, the Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute, which conducts semester-long intensive theater training programs, and Theatermakers - a six-week summer program.

In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage, boyhood summer home of Eugene O'Neill. The museum is a registered National Historic Landmark and is open to the public.

It addition to its Tony recognition, the O'Neill has received the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award for Theatre Excellence, and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award. For more information, visit www.theoneill.org or email theaterlives@theoneill.org.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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