Given on occasion.
Recent award recipients include:
Phylicia Rashad is a Tony Award-winning actress. Rashad starred in many Broadway and off-Broadway productions including Jelly’s Last Jam and Dreamgirls. In 2003, she was the first African-American actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, given for her portrayal of Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. In 2008, she revisited the role in a television adaption for which she earned the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.
Carol Hall’s songs have been performed by such extraordinary singers as Tony Bennett, Barbara Cook, Barbra Streisand, Chita Rivera, Mabel Mercer, Marlo Thomas, RuPaul, Frederica von Stade, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird. Her Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas won two Drama Desk Awards, a Grammy nomination for its cast album and became a popular film starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. Dolly’s recording of Carol’s song “Hard Candy Christmas” generated an ASCAP “Most Performed Country Song” Award. Recently, Cyndi Lauper recorded it with Alison Krauss, and this season, Reba McEntire included the song in her “My Kind of Christmas” CD. The song is listed among “The Best Christmas Songs Ever.” WHOREHOUSE continues to be one of the most endearing and popular musicals performed around the world.
Other theater scores are: Good Sports (Goodspeed Opera,) Are We There Yet? (Williamstown Theater Festival,) To Whom It May Concern (Off-Broadway) and (lyrics) Paper Moon (Paper Mill Playhouse,) and, most recently, lyrics for a musical based on Truman Capote’s classic story A Christmas Memory (book: Duane Poole, music: Larry Grossman.) A particular joy of Carol’s is writing for children. For ten years, she wrote for Sesame Street and was one of the major contributors to Marlo Thomas’ ground-breaking “Free to Be… You and Me” (Emmy Award, Gold album). Her first non-musical work, The Days are As Grass, is licensed by Samuel French. Hall is a Lifetime Member of the Dramatists Guild Council and a major supporter of the Dramatists Guild Fund.
Micki Grant is an American singer (soprano), actress, writer and composer. She performed in Having Our Say (as Sadie Delaney), Tambourines to Glory and Jericho-Jim Crow, The Gingham Dog, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope and has received three Tony Award nominations for her writing. In the early 1960s, she appeared off-Broadway in Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” (with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson), and in “Brecht on Brecht”, in which she sang (among other things) “Pirate Jenny”. In 1964, Grant appeared as ‘Ella Hammer’ in the Howard da Silva’s off-Broadway revival of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock, opposite Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner. In 1965, Micki Grant became one of the first African-American cast members of a daytime soap opera (preceded by Rex Ingram on The Brighter Day), when she played the role of Peggy Harris Nolan on NBC’s Another World.
Much of her early work was done with director Vinnette Carroll, the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway. They collaborated on Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope and Your Arms Too Short to Box With God, both enjoying critical acclaim and long Broadway runs.
Kathleen Chalfant began working as a Production Coordinator at Playwrights Horizons in the mid-1970s, beginning with Demons: A Possession by Robert Karmon. She made her Off-Broadway acting debut in Cowboy Pictures in June 1974 and has since appeared in over three dozen Off-Broadway productions. In 2015, she appeared in the Women’s Project Theater production of Dear Elizabeth by Sarah Ruhl and as Rose Kennedy in the Nora’s Playhouse production of Rose by Laurence Leamer.
Chalfant was nominated for the 1993 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. She earned the Outer Circle Critics, Drama Desk, Obie and Lucille Lortel awards for her performance as Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit in 1998; she shaved her head for the role. During her work with Wit, she incorporated her experiences dealing with terminal cancer of her half-brother, Alan Palmer, who died in 1998.
For her 2003 performance in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, Chalfant won a second Obie award. In 2009, Chalfant performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film utilizing dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.
Chalfant has played recurring roles in a number of television series including House of Cards, Law & Order, Rescue Me, and The Guardian. Her roles in feature films have included Isn’t It Delicious and Kinsey. Chalfant currently plays Margaret Butler in The Affair on Showtime.
She has spoken widely about the role of art and artists in advocating for civil rights and social justice issues, and “theater as a platform for social change.” She has been hosted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, as part of the Guantanamo Lawyers Panel and was among a group of artists endorsing a cultural boycott of Israel to advocate for Palestinian rights. The group noted the precedent of cultural boycott in apartheid-era South Africa.
ZOE CALDWELL began her professional career at the age of nine playing Slightly Soiled in Peter Pan. Since then she has been a member of many of the great companies of the Western World. After establishing herself in her native Australia as a young actress, she was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon for three seasons, playing Bianca in the 1959 production of Othello, starring Paul Robeson; the indomitable Helena opposite Dame Edith Evans in All’s Well That Ends Well; and Cordelia to Charles Laughton’s Lear. In the years that followed she was invited to be a founding member of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and she performed extensively at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, where, among numerous other roles, she played Cleopatra to Christopher Plummer’s Antony — the cornerstone of her career. From there it was on to New York, where she has spent the majority of her professional life. To her credit are four Tony Awards©, for Slapstick Tragedy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Medea, and Master Class; an OBIE; and a book, I Will Be Cleopatra, published by W.W. Norton. In 2003, she doffed her bonnet to the Chancellor of the University of Melbourne and was made an honorary Doctor of Laws. She most recently appeared in the feature film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, directed by Stephen Daldry, and in the one-woman show Elective Affinities, written by David Adjmi.
Diminutive in stature, immense in her influence, a passionately committed pacifist and anarchist who respected no rules, but cherished everything and everyone human, Judith Malina spent a lifetime smashing convention and breaking new ground on the world’s stage and in her personal — but never private — life. The theater company she founded with her first husband, Julian Beck, was a major force in the growth of the artistically innovative and often politically challenging anti-commercial movement that became Off and Off Off Broadway.
Her political activism, on and off stage, landed her in more than one jail. The first of those occasions put her in a cell for 30 days with Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day. She observed Jewish rituals while cheerfully breaking many of the commandments. Her marriage to Beck was non-monogamous, and her pleasures famously included smoking pot.
Malina and Beck founded the Living Theatre in 1947. They started with relatively conventional productions of works by Bertolt Brecht and Jean Cocteau. But in 1959, their production of “The Connection,” playwright Jack Gelber’s searing drama of addiction, won “the Living” its first Obie award and its leading place in New York’s avant-garde and experimental theater.
By 1963, when it produced Kenneth H. Brown’s anti-militarist “The Brig,” the Living Theatre had dedicated itself to politically committed theater, from which it never retreated. The same year saw its first round of trouble with the federal government, when the Internal Revenue Service padlocked the troupe’s theater at 14th St. and Sixth Ave.
The company went on to worldwide fame and ever-increasingly improvisational, participatory, intensely political and occasionally nude productions, from “Paradise Now” in 1968 to its 21st-century cri de coeur against capital punishment, “Not in Our Name.”.
Beck and Malina were arrested in Brazil — for marijuana possession, which they denied — and the company was expelled from more than one country. Yet before the end of the century, the troupe had become known across the globe as a symbol of resistance and hope.
Moving from home to home over the years, buffeted by intermittently acute financial and tax problems, the Living Theatre nevertheless survived. And always, for 68 years, it existed under Malina’s leadership, first shared with Beck, and then, after his untimely death in 1985, Hanon Reznikov, who had been her lover during her marriage to the bisexual Beck and who became her second husband in 1988. Reznikov co-managed the Living Theatre with her until he died in 2008.
Joan D. Firestone
Joan D. Firestone was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by playwright Marsha Norman on December 6, 2012.
Joan D. Firestone has worked to create new possibilities for artists in every discipline and to create a greater public awareness of the value of the arts in our culture throughout her professional career, moving comfortably between the private, not-for-profit and government sectors. An early member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, she has maintained an aggressive and vigilant stand on gender equity and universal arts education. During her tenure as Assistant Director of the New York State Council on the Arts under Kitty Carlisle Hart, she lobbied hard for statewide legislative funding for the arts and became familiar with and an advocate for the non-profit theater community
Firestone has maintained a role as independent theatre producer and events coordinator for which she credits founding League member Dorothy Olim, her first general manager. Before The Dawn, by Joseph Stein; Afterplay by Anne Meara; In Betweens and Shyster by Brian Goluboff; Cryptogram (Obie) by David Mamet; Origin of the Species (theatre and film) and Tabletop (Drama Desk) by Rob Ackerman and a video, Origins of Creativity: Playwrights are among the productions she served as Associate Producer.
A founding Board Member and former Board Chair of the Cherry Lane Theatre she remains an advocate of their extraordinary mission to nurture the careers of unproduced playwrights in NYC’s leading mentor project. She serves on the Board of the Dramatists Guild Fund to heighten the recognition of American playwrights. Firestone was appointed Executive Director of the pre-eminent storytelling organization, The Moth in 2010 where she enjoys a relationship with uniquely talented and committed colleagues and serves millions of enthusiastic audiences across the country and the globe with the art of storytelling in curated and directed true personal stories told live.
Firestone is a Graduate of Queens College, was a Master’s Candidate in Comparative Languages at the University of Kansas, at Lawrence, and holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
Elizabeth Ireland McCann
Elizabeth Ireland McCann was presented the LPTW Lifetime Acheivement Award by fellow producer Robyn Goodman on December 8, 2011.
Broadway productions include Driving Miss Daisy, HAIR, Equus, Passing Strange, Butley, Well, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Goat, Copenhagen, A View from the Bridge, Dracula, Elephant Man, Morning’s at Seven, Mass Appeal, Amadeus, Home, Piaf, Rose, Leader of the Pack, Stepping Out, Orpheus Descending. With Royal Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cyrano de Bergerac, Much Ado About Nothing, Good, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Sherlock Homes and London Assurance. With James M. Nederlander: My Fat Friend, Otherwise Engaged, Habeas Corpus, The Dresser. Off-Broadway: Beckett/Albee, The Play About the Baby, Three Tall Women, The Lady and the Clarinet, Painting Churches and Pacific Overtures. West End: Three Tall Women, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Delicate Balance, The Unexpected Manand The Three Sisters. A 2004 inductee into the Theatre Hall of Fame, Ms. McCann is the recipient of the Entrepreneurial Woman Award from the Women Business Owners of N.Y. (1981), the James J. and James Hoey Award for Interracial Justice (1981), a Special Drama League Award for co-producing The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby on Broadway (1982), and the Dr. Louis M. Spadero Award from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business (1982). She is also the recipient of 8 Tony Awards. Ms. McCann holds a BA from Manhattanville College, an MA from Columbia University, a Doctor of Law Degree from Fordham University, and three honorary doctorates (Manhattanville College: PhD, 1983 and ArtsD, 1987 and Marymount College: LtD, 1993).
Chita Rivera is an American actress, dancer, and singer best known for her roles in musical theatre. She is the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award (December 2002). She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Rivera has been nominated for the Tony Award ten times, as either Best Featured Actress in a Musical or Best Actress in a Musical. This is the current record for the most individual Tony Award nominations, which she shares with Julie Harris.
Dorothy Olim has lectured around the country on the subjects of “How to produce Off-Broadway” and “economics of the theatrical industry.” She is a former president and current board member if the League of Advertising Agencies, of which her agency, Krone-Olim Advertising, Inc., is a member.
Julia Miles is the Founder and Artistic Director of Women’s Project & Productions, which has produced 111 plays and over 400 readings and workshops by women playwrights. In the early 1960s, Miles co-founded Theatre Current in Brooklyn Heights and later became Associate Director of The American Place Theatre. She has co-produced Off-Broadway productions, including Elaine May’s Not Enough Rope. She is the founder of the League of Professional Theatre Women/New York and is the proud parent and grandparent of three daughters and six grandchildren.
Ellen Stewart was a woman entirely without theatrical experience but ended up being a leading “theatre pioneer”. In the early days of the La Mama theatre she continued designing clothing so she could support the theatre. She had an incredible work ethic, dedication and her influence in the theatre was simply groundbreaking. She created a space to foster young new playwrights. That includes but isn’t limited to Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, and Harvey Fierstein and harvesting actors like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Bette Midler.
In 1961 Stewart together with Paul Foster and others founded Café La MaMa, which became one of the most successful Off-Off-Broadway theatrical companies – La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Before a performance Stewart was known to come out,“ring a cowbell and announce La MaMa’s dedication to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre.” La MaMa was a place for playwrights to work and experiment with their new work with out any external interferences. In the next decades she became famous around the world, writing and directing an enormous body of pieces, exclusively based on music and dance, with international artists.
In 1969 La MaMa moved to 74A East Fourth Street, which was created into a 99-seat theatre with the help of the W. MacNeil Lowry and the Ford Foundation. In 1974, Stewart converted a television studio into a 295- seat theatre called the Annex. It was renamed the Ellen Stewart Theatre in 2009. La MaMa also has an art gallery and a six-story rehearsal space. La MaMa puts up about 70 productions a year.
Stewart started directing much later in her life. La MaMa became the magnet for many similar theatres and experimental theatre in Europe.
In 1992, Stewart was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and she was the first Off-Off- Broadway Producer to receive this honor.
In 2007 Stewart was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in the field of Film and Theater and the Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award granted annually by the Polish Centre of the International Theatre Institute for “outstanding achievements in the promotion of Polish theatre throughout the world”.
In 2005 Tom O’Horgan presented Stewart with the Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. This honor was bestowed to Stewart on behalf of her peers and fellow artists of the Off-Off-Broadway community “in recognition of her significant contributions to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service, support and leadership”.
Stewart’s work could be seen all around the world in America, Uruguay, Argentina, Austria, Italy, Turkey, the Phillippines, Cameroon, Central Africa, Republic, Senegal, Nigeria, Brazil, Haiti, Morocco, Israel, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. She not only presented theatre in these places but she also taught there. She was a visiting professor at the Institute of Drama in South Korea and is a member of the Seoul International Theatre Institute. The New Eastern European Theatre was introduced when Stewart brought Jerzy Grotowski, Ryszard Cieslak, and Ludwig Flaszen to America and she was aided by Ted Hoffman at New York University.
She was appointed an officers in the Ordre de Arts et des lettres of France and received a “Distiguished Services to Art and Culture” Award in the Ukraine. She also received awards from Japan and a Human Rights award from the Phillippines.
Recently, there has also been the creation of the Ellen Stewart International Award which is given to, ”an individual theatre artist or theatre company whose work promotes social change and community participation with a particular focus on the engagement of young people.” The International Executive Committee chooses ten artists/companies then the recipient is one of those ten. The winner receives a trip to attend the International Theatre Institute’s World Congress, an artistic residency at La MaMa Umbria to create a new work that will then be financed and produced at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds and then at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.
Margaret Croyden was a well known critic, commentator, and journalist whose pieces on the theater and the arts have appeared in The New York Times in the Arts & Leisure section as well as The New York Times Magazine.
Croyden also wrote for The Village Voice, The American Theater Magazine, The Nation, Vogue, and Theater Week. On the Internet, she wrote about theater, music and opera in a long-running column in New York Theatre Wire, titled “Croyden’s Corner,” from 1998 to the time of her death.
Her journalism helped educate generations of theater scholars and critics about such important theater figures as Grotowski, Ionesco, Beckett, Peter Brook and others.
She was the author of “Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets: The Contemporary Experimental Theater” (McGraw-Hill), a seminal study that traces the history and development of the avant-garde theater. Her memoir, “In the Shadow of the Flame: Three Journeys” (Continuum Publishing) was widely acclaimed for its originality. Her book “Conversations with Peter Brook: 1970-2000” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) received the front page star review in Publisher’s Weekly. “Conversations” was reprinted in Britain, France, Spain, and China.
Her fourth and last book, “The Years in Between: A Reporter’s Journey World War II-The Cold War,” is a memoir triggered by the events of 9/11 and the Iraq War which brought to mind her memories of her first encounters with World War II. Drawing from diaries, tapes, and memories, she recounts her youthful adventures and struggles, and a later transformation, this time political, by her visits to faraway places as Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Beirut, and Jerusalem.
As host-commentator-interviewer for over ten years on CBS TV’s Camera Three, a popular arts program, Ms. Croyden interviewed and discussed the work of Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski, Andre Gregory, Irene Worth, George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Joseph Papp, Vanessa Redgrave, and Lee Strasberg among others.
Born in Brooklyn, Ms. Croyden dreamed of a glamorous career as a Broadway star when she joined an acting unit that entertained the troops in Europe as World War II was coming to an end. She soon found herself “embedded” with American occupation troops in France and Germany after the war, an experience that would eventually launch her transformation into a widely experienced international journalist, educator, and author.
She was educated at Hunter College, New York University, Oxford University, and the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. She has lectured widely at numerous international gatherings in the United States and in Europe. She has been the recipient of several honors including the prestigious Asian Cultural Council grant enabling her to lecture and write on the arts in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Ms. Croyden was one of the founders of the League of Professional Theater Women, from which she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. Together with author Marilyn Stasio, she also helped found the Drama Desk, which held a tribute to her in its Annual Meeting on November 12, 2014. She was also a member of the American Theater Critics Association, and the PEN American Center, where she was a frequent contributor to the PEN Letter. Much of her archived work was acquired by Yale University, in the Sterling Memorial Library. Included in her archived collection are approximately 50 taped interviews with Peter Brook and other theater figures to original manuscripts.
Fifi Oscard, also known as Fifi Steinmetz, ran The Fifi Oscard Agency in New York City. Among her clients over the years were Orson Welles, Art Buchwald, Jack Palance, William Shatner and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margaret Edson, who penned Wit.
In addition to representing artists and writers, she sat on the boards of the Mercantile Library of New York, the New York Hall of Science and the Avignon/New York Film Festivals. She was also on the council of the Temple of Understanding, a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, the Coffee House and The Women’s Forum.
According to an early bio in “Who’s Who of the American Theatre,” Ms. Oscard was born Fernanda Oscard in New York City. Her father was a silk importer. After high school, she attended Barnard College and married H.M. Steinmetz, a lawyer-executive, in 1939.
She founded her agency in 1959, with offices in New York and associates in Hollywood and London. Before that, she was associated with the Olga Lee-Stephen Draper Agency (1949-59) and Lucille A. Phillips (1952-59). In its early years, her organization handled talent “in all branches of theatre, television and motion pictures” with emphasis on “announcer-narrators and complete casting of industrial productions.” Literary representation was added to the agency’s portfolio in 1978. And over the past 25 years its projects have expanded from “the early synergistic celebrity autobiographies” to “a roster of clients in almost every area of publishing,” according to the agency’s website.
Betty Comden was one-half of the musical-comedy duo Comden and Green, who provided lyrics, libretti, and screenplays to some of the most beloved and successful Hollywood musicals and Broadway shows of the mid-20th century. Her writing partnership with Adolph Green, called “the longest running creative partnership in theatre history”, lasted for six decades, during which time they collaborated with other leading entertainment figures such as the famed “Freed Unit” at MGM, Jule Styne and Leonard Bernstein, and wrote the musical comedy film Singin’ in the Rain. Comden and Green’s first Broadway show was in 1944, with On the Town.
In 1980, Comden was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. And, in 1981, she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Comden and Green received Kennedy Center Honors in 1991.
Janet Hayes Walker
Janet Hayes Walker was the founder and producing director of York Theatre Company.
She appeared on Broadway in a number of shows, including the original productions of Damn Yankees, Plain and Fancy, The Golden Apple, The Music Man, Camelot and Anyone Can Whistle. When the latter ended its abbreviated run in 1964, she retired from acting and, except for occasion appearances in regional theatres, devoted herself to taking care of her family.
That lasted five years. The “theatre bug” resurfaced, and she founded the York Theatre Company at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in NYC. It became a popular launching pad for several outstanding musical revivals, notably some composed by the songwriter of Anyone Can Whistle, Stephen Sondheim.
Her resurrections of his Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd (in an intimate chamber version affectionately nicknamed “Teeny Todd”) went extra innings before their York liftoffs–into extended engagements at Off-Broadway’s Promenade and Broadway’s Circle in the Square, respectively. She also revived his Company, A Little Night Music, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and, more recently, the Lucille Lortel Award-winning Merrily We Roll Along.
In addition, the York Theatre Company produced under her aegis acclaimed productions of The Baker’s Wife, Colette Collage, The Grass Harp, Lost in the Stars and the Outer Critics Circle Award-winning Carnival.
Sylvia Herscher & Rosetta Le Noire
Sylvia Herscher was a Broadway literary agent, general manager and producer who received a special Tony Award in 2000.
Herscher worked in all aspects of the theater, particularly musicals. For many years, she was secretary to composer Jule Styne, assisting him on such shows as “Make a Wish” (1951) and the 1952 revival of “Pal Joey.”
She studied piano from an early age and after marrying and raising a family, she went to work in 1950 for the producer Alexander Cohen, doing publicity for “King Lear.” She eventually served as general manager for such productions as “Hazel Flagg” (1953) and “Mr. Wonderful” (1956), and helped produce the 1955 comedy “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”
In 1960, she joined the William Morris Agency as a literary agent. From 1966-75, she headed the theater department at Edwin H. Morris, one of the leading publishers of Broadway scores. She headed the theater department at G. Schirmer until retiring in 1982.
Rosetta LeNoire was an American stage, screen, and television actress, as well as a Broadway producer and casting agent. LeNoire is known to contemporary audiences for her work in television. She had regular roles on the series Gimme a Break! and Amen but she may be best-known for her role as Estelle “Mother” Winslow (Carl’s mother) on Family Matters, which ran from 1989-98. In 1999, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
She championed the cause of racial equity for more than 70 years. Her efforts profoundly influenced the New York theater community. In 1968, using her own savings, LeNoire founded the AMAS Repertory Theatre Company, an interracial theatre dedicated to multi-ethnic productions in New York City. With this company, LeNoire created an artistic community where members’ individual skills were recognized without regard to race, creed, color, religion, or national origin. She became a successful and groundbreaking Broadway producer. The Actors’ Equity Association awarded her the first award for helping contribute to the diversification of theatre casting; in 1988, the award was named the Rosetta LeNoire Award.
Amas Repertory Theatre provided a nurturing atmosphere for actors, and a community performing arts center. Throughout its history, many of the company’s productions garnered reviews in The New York Times. The long-running theater’s cramped headquarters were originally located at 1 East 104th Street, in the uptown neighborhood known as East Harlem. The theater continues today as Amas Musical Theatre, now located midtown on West 52nd Street above Jersey Boys, and carries on LeNoire’s dream of diversity in the creative and theatrical arts. Since its inception, Amas has produced over 60 original musicals. Many of them have gone on to Broadway, including Bubbling Brown Sugar, which received a Tony Award nomination.
Jean Dalrymple was an American theater producer, manager, publicist, and playwright who was instrumental in the founding of New York City Center and is best known for her productions there.
Dalrymple served on the Board of City Center, and in the 1980s, was president of the Light Opera of Manhattan. At City Center, she produced revivals of such works as Our Town; Porgy and Bess; Othello (starring Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer); A Streetcar Named Desire (starring Uta Hagen and Anthony Quinn); Pal Joey (with Bob Fosse and Viveca Lindfors); King Lear (with Orson Welles), and many others.
Lucille Lortel was an American actress, artistic director and producer. In the course of her career Lortel produced or co-produced nearly 500 plays, 5 of which were nominated for Tony Awards: As Is by William M. Hoffman, Angels Fall by Lanford Wilson, Blood Knot by Athol Fugard, Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina! and A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing. She also produced Marc Blitzstein’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s, and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, a production which ran for seven years and according to The New York Times “caused such a sensation that it…put Off Broadway on the map.”
In 1947, “after spending over 15 years looking for a way to express herself in the Theatre that was acceptable to her husband” (and at the urging of actor Danny Kaye), Lortel founded the White Barn Theatre in an old horse barn on her and her husband’s estate in Westport and Norwalk, Connecticut. According to Lortel’s wishes the Theatre’s mission was aimed at presenting works of an unusual and experimental nature, existing as a sanctuary from commercial pressures, a place where writers could take a chance with their plays and where actors could stretch their talents.
Under Lortel’s guidance The White Barn premiered plays (many of which enjoyed successful transfers to commercial theatres) such as: George C. Wolfe and Lawrence Bearson’s Ivory Tower with Eva Marie Saint (1947); Seán O’Casey’s Red Roses for Me (1948); Eugène Ionesco’s The Chairs (1957); Archibald MacLeish’s This Music Crept by Me Upon the Waters (1959); Edward Albee’s Fam and Yam (1960); Samuel Beckett’s Embers (1960); Murray Schisgal’s The Typists (1961); Adrienne Kennedy’s The Owl Answers (1965); Norman Rosten’s Come Slowly Eden (1966); Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1966); Terrence McNally’s Next (1967); Barbara Wersba’s The Dream Watcher starring Eva Le Gallienne (1975); June Havoc’s Nuts for the Underman (1977); David Allen’s Cheapside starring Cherry Jones (which Lortel later co-produced at the Half Moon Theatre in London); and Margaret Sanger’sUnfinished Business, starring Eileen Heckart (1989). Ireland’s famed Dublin Players performed for several seasons at the White Barn with Milo O’Shea.