THE DRAMA LEAGUE HONORS AUDRA McDONALD
Monday February 11, 2013: The Drama League 2013 Benefit Gala played tribute to Audra McDonald, a rare and luminous artist with five Tony Awards, Two Grammy Awards and a long and growing list of accolades. The Gala billed as a Musical Celebration of Broadway Honoring Audra McDonald took place in the Grand Ballroom of The Pierre Hotel in New York City. where the incomparable soprano with a unique gift as a dramatic actress was feted and she is equally at home on Broadway and opera stages as well as on film and television.
The 2013 Benefit Gala brought together 500 of New York City’s most influential arts supporters, celebrities, and luminaries for a black-tie evening of cocktails, dinner, and an unforgettable musical revue featuring dozens of stars from film, television and theatre. The Musical Celebration of Broadway featured songs from Audra’s many Broadway triumphs, including The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Carousel, Ragtime, Master Class, Marie Christine, 110 In The Shade; her operatic and concert work, including her celebrated turns in Passion and Mahogany; and her award-winning albums "Way Back To Paradise," "How Glory Goes," "Happy Songs" and "Build A Bridge."
The evening raises much-needed funds for the vital education programs of The Drama League Directors Project. Since 1984, The Drama League has honored exceptional artists, whose talent and passion have served as a benchmark for others, including Kristin Chenoweth, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chita Rivera, Rosie O’Donnell and Terrence McNally
Executive Director Gabriel Shanks and Artistic Director Roger T. Danforth announced, during the evening at the Pierre Hotel, the founding of The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio Lab and The Joseph and Lauren Pizza Welcome Center, both to be components inside the new Drama League Theater Center. Located in the heart of Tribeca’s burgeoning cultural district, The Drama League Theater Center will open its doors at 32 Avenue of the Americas this spring.
The announcement of the newly-christened spaces was made during the evening’s festivities by actors Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon, and Nick Adams, the reunited stars of the Broadway musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which counted among its producers Mr. Lane and Ms. Comley.
The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio Lab will be a flexible-configuration creative space for the development of new plays and musicals for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and for leading theatres around the country. It will house workshops, readings, classes, open rehearsals, symposia, panel discussions, and the new Drama League Resident Artists Program, where selected directors and their collaborators will cultivate new works for the theatre. The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio Lab will offer premium rehearsal space, state-of-the-art sound and video projection capability, and production workstations among its amenities. Mr. Lane and Ms. Comley, as producers, have been associated with over 40 Broadway productions that have garnered five Tony Awards, including Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson; The Merchant of Venice; and The 39 Steps. Ms. Comley serves on the board of directors of The Drama League, and with Mr. Lane served as the co-chairs of the Musical Celebration of Broadway from 2010 to 2012.
The Joseph and Lauren Pizza Welcome Center will be the space welcoming guests as they enter The Drama League Theatre Center, where the Founders Wall, Hospitality Lounge, reception amenities, a reservations desk for all events, and the entrances to The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio Lab and the Creative Suites will be located. Opening from the completely restored, 1920’s Art Deco grand lobby, the Welcome Center will be the crossroads for artists, patrons, VIP guests, and others who are part of The Drama League community.
Both The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio Lab and The Joseph and Lauren Pizza Welcome Center are designed by FXFowle, the architects behind Lincoln Center’s renovation of Alice Tully Hall, and FisherDachs, co-founded by Jules Fisher, eight-time Tony Award-winning lighting and theatre designer. The Drama League Theater Center and its programs are estimated to serve approximately 15,000 artists and audience members each year.
"It’s increasingly rare to come across arts leaders like Stewart, Bonnie, Joe and Lauren. These four individuals have made lifelong commitments to the arts, and their support of The Drama League Theater Center is just the latest iteration of their enthusiasm for great theater. We are honored to have their names linked with ours in our new home," stated Gabriel Shanks, The Drama League Executive Director.
In addition to Mr. Lane, Ms. Comley, and Mr. & Mrs. Pizza, Leadership Donors for the construction of The Drama League Theater Center include Paula Kaminsky Davis, Amy Eller, Ellen Fox, Rebecca Gillan, Susan Lang, Betsy Turner, Mr.& Mrs. Charles G. Ward III, and W. Weldon & Elaine Wilson.
Since 1916, The Drama League of New York has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. It is one of the nation’s oldest continuously-operating, not-for-profit arts advocacy and education organization.
Through its programs, initiatives and events, The Drama League indelibly transforms the lives of artists and audiences by harnessing the unique social and creative dynamism of theatre. Its nationally-renowned, award-winning efforts have two vital goals: To train and nurture the artists of tomorrow and to deepen and strengthen the audience experience.
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