Preston Whiteway, executive director of the O'Neill Center, will accept the honor alongside conference artistic directors and O'Neill board chair Tom Viertel. The regional Tony Award is made on the recommendation of the American Theatre Critics' Association.
Founded in 1964, the O'Neill Center oversees the National Playwrights Conference; the National Music Theater Conference; the National Theater Institute; the National Puppetry Conference; the Cabaret and Performance Conference; the National Critics Institute; and the Monte Cristo Cottage.
Whiteway told Playbill.com, "Receiving the Regional Theater Tony Award is humbling and thrilling. The O'Neill is a beacon to artists in every discipline in theater, and it is an honor to have our efforts to discover, nurture, and develop new work and new voices recognized. O'Neill alumni from our seven programs, including the founding program National Playwrights Conference, and the National Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute have gone on to have major impacts in American and world drama. This award is shared with every artist who has worked, studied or developed work at the O'Neill. Thank you to Tom Viertel, chairman, and the entire board of trustees, who are completely committed to our unique mission. Each artistic director, including Wendy C. Goldberg, Paulette Haupt, Michael Bush, Pam Arciero, Dan Sullivan and Jeff Janisheski has led their program to national prominence. I am grateful to our entire team."
Viertel told Playbill.com, "I can't imagine a more inspiring honor. This award is a tribute to everyone - our artistic directors and staff, the great artists we serve and our students - who cherish the process of making theater. Bestowing the Tony Award on the O'Neill is particularly exciting to us because we are not a traditional regional theater but an incubator for new work and new voices. This is an affirmation that the first steps are just as important as the last in the life of a new work."
Musicals developed at the O'Neill include Nine, Avenue Q, In The Heights, Violet and Tales of the City. Among the plays that were nurtured at the O'Neill are The House of Blue Leaves, Uncommon Women and Others, A Walk in the Woods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson and Fences. Alumni include August Wilson, John Patrick Shanley, Wendy Wasserstein, Adam Rapp, Gina Gionfriddo, John Guare, David Henry Hwang and Adam Bock.