Mary-Louise Parker, the star of Broadway production of Manhattan Theatre Club's Proof, presented MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove with the 2000 Jujamcyn Theaters Award at a ceremony held Jan. 22 at Tavern on the Green. Parker was just one of many MTC alumnae to be seen in the intimate crowd of one hundred people. Others included actors Michele Lee and Linda Lavin (both of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife), Daniel Gerroll (An Experiment with an Air Pump) and much of the cast of Boy Gets Girl, the Rebecca Gilman play which will have its NYC debut at MTC later this season.
Parker recalled how she won her first paying acting job at MTC. Talking of Meadow, she said, "I remember wondering, who is this beautiful tall woman who keeps showing up and telling me I'm doing a good job." For her part, Meadow recollected the first time she saw Parker at an audition. "I was sitting next to director Adrian Noble and both of us said simultaneously, `Who is that? Let's hire her.'"
Parker's introduction was preceded by a few comments from Rocco Landesman, the head of Jujamcyn Theaters. "This award has always been given to a nonprofit theatre—until this year," he joked, a reference to MTC's phenomenal success in the last year, in which the company has sent three productions on to commercial Broadway runs. Continuing in his light vein, he added, "Robert Brustein just said to me, `So, MTC needs another $50,000?'" He went on to praise the institution's two longtime leaders, saying, "Lynne and Barry do what they do better than anyone does what they do in the theatre."
Given to "a resident theater that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theater," the award has gone to such organizations as The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, Long Wharf Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, Second Stage, the Guthrie Theater, the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Market Theatre in South Africa, and City Center Encores!
The $50,000 award is presented every year by the Jujamcyn Theaters, proprietors of five Broadway houses: the Walter Kerr (home to MTC's Proof), the Eugene O'Neill (Full Monty), the St. James (the prospective home to The Producers), the Martin Beck (Kiss Me, Kate) and the Virginia (soon to be castle for Brian Stokes Mitchell in MTC's King Hedley II). —By Robert Simonson
and Ernio Hernandez