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Walnut Street Theatre's COMEDY TONIGHT! Gala to Honor Denise D. Hodgson


Walnut Street Theatre has announced that it will honor Walnut Street Theatre Trustee Denise D. Hodgson with the 2017 Edwin Forrest Award at the Theatre's annual Gala.

The evening's events will begin with a 90-minute concert filled with comedic Broadway songs and other familiar tunes...with a twist. Selections include I Feel Pretty, Popular and Gotta Have A Gimmick. The one-night-only performance will have Philadelphia favorites give performances that will have guests rolling in the aisle.

Performers include: Jeffrey Coon, Ben Dibble, Jennie Eisenhower, Lexi Gwynn, Melissa Joy Hart, Billy D. Hart, Ellie Mooney, Brandon O'Rourke, Nichalas L. Parker, Lyn Philistine, Rebecca Robbins, Alanna J. Smith, Jenny Lee Stern, Christopher Sutton, Jacob Wilner and Nick Williams. Fran Prisco will take the stage as Emcee for the evening.

All proceeds from the Gala benefit the Walnut Street Theatre's award-winning Education and Outreach programming, which has grown to reach over 172,000 students, teachers and families annually in the Delaware Valley. One of these programs is the Professional Apprenticeship Program that offers 32 seasonal apprenticeship opportunities for recent graduates. This season's Acting Apprentices Anne Bragg, Alexa Cepeda, Joslynn Cortes, Rafael Martinez-Salgado, Dana Orange, Faith Sacher, Jacob Schrimpf and Austin Turner will join the Gala performances on stage to showcase their talents.

The Gala Concert, Comedy Tonight!, will take place on Walnut Street Theatre's Mainstage at 7:00PM on Friday, May 5. Before the concert begins, guests will receive a glass of wine to enjoy during the performance. Following the Gala Concert, a VIP Party will be held on the Thomas Jefferson University Campus in the Jefferson Alumni Hall Atrium (1020 Locust Street, between 10th and 11th Streets).

This event is held annually to recognize members of the business and artistic communities with the Edwin Forrest Award for their contributions to American Theatre. The award was created in 1990 in honor of the leading American actor of the nineteenth century, Edwin Forrest. Forrest is a Philadelphia native who made his debut at the Walnut in 1820. This year the Walnut celebrates the contributions of Walnut Street Theatre Trustee, and Immediate Past Chair, Denise D. Hodgson.

Denise was introduced to theatre at a young age, having taken trips to New York City to see Broadway shows with her grandparents. Her father was an opera singer and, together with her mother, also exposed Denise to big musicals on regional stages during her childhood. It was then that she fell in love with live performance, particularly theatre.

Denise graduated with a degree in Economics from Nasson College in Maine. After college, she moved to New York City and worked at R.H. Macy Corporation as a Junior Executive, before her banking career led her to Philadelphia. Following her relocation, Denise discovered the Walnut Street Theatre. The first production she attended was Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? with her late husband C. Clark Hodgson Jr., and she never looked back.

In 1999, Denise joined the Walnut Street Theatre Board of Trustees and has served in a variety of leadership positions, including Immediate Past Chair. Although her love of the Walnut was first discovered having seen what the Walnut produces on-stage, her passion grew when she became aware of, and involved in, the Theatre's Education and Outreach Programs. Since Denise joined the board, the programs have grown exponentially making an unprecedented impact in the Philadelphia community. She is passionately committed to serving the arts community in Philadelphia as a patron, donor, advocate, and volunteer.

Beyond her work with the Walnut Street Theatre, Denise devotes significant energy and resources as an officer and representative for a number of other organizations in the greater Philadelphia area. She currently serves as a Director and Vice President of the Catholic Charities Appeal Board as well as a Director of the Board of Catholic Social Services, for which she is also Chair of the Developmental Programs Division for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She is Lady Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre where she was inducted in 1990 at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Denise also served three six-year terms as the Whitpain Township Auditor, with two of those terms as Chair of the Auditors.

Currently a Center City resident, Denise is an active member of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church on Rittenhouse Square and enjoys many activates, including skiing, surfing, ballroom dancing, traveling and cooking. Her favorite pastime is spending time with her family, including her son C. Clark Hodgson, III, daughter and son-in-law Elizabeth and Ross Armstrong and her first granddaughter, Camilla.

The Walnut is happy to honor Denise for her dedication to Walnut Street Theatre.

The Gala Committee Chair is Walnut Street Theatre Donor Rachel Wilner (Malvern, PA).


Walnut Street Theatre's Comedy Tonight! Gala Concert

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2017 AT 7:00PM

Walnut Street Theatre (Gala Concert), 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Jefferson Alumni Hall Atrium (VIP Party), Thomas Jefferson University Campus, 1020 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

TICKETS: $25 - $45 Gala Tickets: Ticket to the Concert and Pre-Concert Glass of Wine; $80 Premium Tickets: Premium Seat at the Concert and Pre-Concert Glass of Wine; $250 VIP Tickets: VIP seating, Pre-Concert Glass of Wine and Access to the VIP Party

Call 215-574-3550 or visit for more information.

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