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Kenny Leon and the Shubert Organization to Be Honored at The Educational Theatre Foundation Virtual Gala

Leon will be recognized during the foundation's virtual gala Theatre Alive!: A Celebration of School Theatre.

Kenny Leon and the Shubert Organization to Be Honored at The Educational Theatre Foundation Virtual Gala

The Educational Theatre Foundation will honor award-winning director, producer, and actor Kenny Leon with its second annual Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award on January 28 at 8:30 p.m. (EST).

Leon will be recognized during the foundation's virtual gala Theatre Alive!: A Celebration of School Theatre, which will feature performances from film, theatre, and television professionals alongside current high school students. The star-studded event, which is free and open to all, will raise critical funds for theatre programs in underserved schools across the country through an evening of performances, tributes and stories. During the evening's program, The Shubert Organization will receive the foundation's annual Standing Ovation Award. Additional presenters and performers will be announced at a later date.

Co-chaired by Broadway and television producer Robert Greenblatt and film and television producer Neil Meron, Theatre Alive! will be livestreamed on, Broadway on Demand, and iHeartRadio Broadway. The event, normally held in-person, is being opened for all theatre lovers to attend and enjoy. Attendees can register online to secure their free ticket and to receive notifications as new stars are added to the lineup.

The inspiring program will support two critical ETF programs: Thespian Relief Grants to Save School Theatre, which assist theatre programs financially struggling from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new Pathway program to address racial disparity in theatre.

Kenny Leon serves on the advisory board for Pathway, which he says, "will open doors for young people to discover their greater selves." Pathway creates opportunities for high school students to work with industry professionals of color and perform works encouraging dialogue around racial equity. The program is financially supported by ETF's Craig Zadan Memorial Fund with gifts made in tribute to the late producer following his untimely passing in August 2018.

As the recipient of the Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award a?? first presented posthumously to Zadan and his producing partner Neil Meron in 2018, then to Bernadette Peters in 2019 a?? Leon is being recognized for his dedication to promoting and preserving the joy of theatre, inspiring young artists, and leaving a lasting impact on generations to come.

Zadan gave Leon his first professional opportunity in television when he produced the small-screen adaptation of the director's 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Leon subsequently directed live television productions of the musicals Hairspray and The Wiz, both produced by Zadan.

"Craig was a visionary committed to racial equity," said Leon. "He helped many people of color with their careers, including me. He made sure that Black and brown people were included in the pursuit of the American dream. Before we acknowledged this epidemic of race and racism in America, Craig was doing the work on the ground. We miss him, we thank him, and we love him, and I'm honored to accept an award championing his legacy."

"Kenny Leon embodies the spirit of the Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award, and we're thrilled to celebrate him in a year in which we pay tribute to the resilience of school theatre programs through Theatre Alive!," said Julie Cohen Theobald, president of ETF. "In the toughest of circumstances, teachers are finding creative ways to make theatre happen when students need it most. This event will honor them, support those hit hardest by the pandemic, and push forward our vision of ensuring every student has access to theatre in their school."

As part of the Theatre Alive! program, ETF also will present its annual Standing Ovation Award to the Shubert Foundation, with Shubert Chairman and CEO Robert E. Wankel accepting on behalf of the organization. The award recognizes a corporation or organization making significant contributions to theatre education nationally through philanthropic efforts or program activities. The Shubert Organization is America's oldest professional theatre company and Broadway's largest theatre owner.

Performers and presenters for Theatre Alive! will be announced later. To attend this livestreamed gala, register online to secure a free ticket and to receive updates.

Kenny Leon is a Tony Award-winning Broadway and film director. His Broadway credits include A Soldier's Play (Tony Award nominee), the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington (Tony Award winner for best direction of a play and best revival), The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, August Wilson's Fences (which garnered 10 Tony nominations and won three awards, including best revival), American Son, 2019 Broadway show and Emmy nominee movie and others.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing by the Drama League of New York. He is also the founder and artistic director emeritus of True Colors Theatre in Atlanta. Prior to co-founding True Colors, Leon served 11 years as artistic director of the Alliance Theatre.

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