The 2008 Theater Hall of Fame inductees include actors Nathan Lane and Richard Easton, playwright Alan Ayckbourn, producer Emanuel Azenberg, choreographer Patricia Birch, composer Marvin Hamlisch, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and, posthumously, the late actor Roscoe Lee Browne.
A post-induction supper will be held at the New York Friars Club. Honorary chair is Dame Celia Lipton Farris; Terry Hodge Taylor produces.
Eligible nominees must have a minimum of five major credits and 25 years in the Broadway theatre. The inductees are voted on by the American Theater Critics Association and the members of the Theater Hall of Fame.
Host Dana Ivey was last on Broadway in the Nathan Lane revival of Butley, for which she received a Tony nomination. The veteran stage actress was also Tony-nominated for her performances in Heartbreak House, Sunday in the Park with George, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and The Rivals. She won Drama Desk awards for her work in Ballyhoo and Sex and Longing. Ivey will soon be seen in the Playwright Horizons production of The Savannah Disputation. Last year's inductees included actors John Cullum, Harvey Fierstein, Dana Ivey and Lois Smith; director Jack O'Brien; playwright Peter Shaffer; and librettist Joseph Stein. The late theatre critic Mel Gussow was inducted posthumously.
Alan Ayckbourn's more than 70 plays include Relatively Speaking, Absurd Person Singular, Just Between Ourselves, A Chorus Of Disapproval, Woman In Mind, A Small Family Business, Man of the Moment, Things We Do For Love, Comic Potential and Private Fears in Public Places. While London critics are currently praising the new Old Vic revival of Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests, Off-Broadway's The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) has revived his Bedroom Farce, not seen in Manhattan in 30 years.
Emanuel Azenberg has presented nearly 60 plays and musicals, among them The Lion in Winter, Children of a Lesser God, The Real Thing and Sunday in the Park With George as well as every Neil Simon play since 1972, including The Sunshine Boys, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lost in Yonkers. His productions have won over 40 Tony Awards and 130 nominations. An educator, Azenberg has taught at Duke University for two decades, and also taught at Yale and New York University. He is also a longtime general manager of productions, and his early career included company managing shows.
Director-choreographer Patricia Birch was Tony-nominated for Best Choreography for her work on Grease, Over Here!, Pacific Overtures, Music Is and Parade. Her Broadway resume also includes The Carefree Tree (supervised dance sequences), Brigadoon (dancer), Goldilocks (dancer), West Side Story (performer), A Little Night Music (choreography), Candide (choreography), Truckload (direction and choreography), Happy End (direction and staging), They're Playing Our Song (choreography), Zoot Suit (choreography), Raggedy Ann (direction and choreography), Roza (musical staging), Welcome to the Club (musical staging) and Band in Berlin (direction and choreography).
The late Roscoe Lee Brown appeared on Broadway in Two Trains Running for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. His other Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include My One And Only; The Blacks; Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright; The Ballad of the Sad Café; Benito Cereno; The Old Glory; and the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Julius Caesar, King Lear and Troilus and Cressida. In 1981, he appeared in his own play, Behind the Broken Words, at the American Place Theatre with Anthony Zerbe, and the pair toured the country in the play for many years. Mr. Browne passed away April 11, 2007, at the age of 81.
Richard Easton won a Tony Award for his work in The Invention of Love. His numerous other Broadway credits include The Country Wife, Back to Methuselah, The School for Scandal, Pickwick, Pantagleize, Exit the King, The Cherry Orchard, The Misanthrope, Cock-a-Doodle Dandy, Hamlet, Murderous Angels, Noises Off, Henry IV, The Rivals and The Coast of Utopia.
Marvin Hamlisch won the 1976 Tony Award for Best Score of a Musical for his work on A Chorus Line (lyrics by Edward Kleban) and received a Tony nomination for his score for the short-lived musical Sweet Smell of Success. The composer also contributed songs (lyrics by Craig Carnelia) to the Broadway play-with-music Imaginary Friends, and his other Broadway credits include They're Playing Our Song, Smile and The Goodbye Girl. Hamlisch has scored more than 40 motion pictures, and his numerous pop hits include "The Way We Were" and "Nobody Does It Better."
In addition to his Tony-winning roles in The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Nathan Lane has starred on The Great White Way in November, Butley, Present Laughter, Merlin, The Wind in the Willows, Some Americans Abroad, On Borrowed Time, Guys and Dolls, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Love! Valour! Compassion! and The Man Who Came to Dinner. The actor has also been featured in such films as "Addams Family Values," "Mousehunt," "Love's Labour's Lost" and "The Birdcage," scoring a Golden Globe nomination for his work in the latter. He was also seen in the film adaptation of "Nicholas Nickleby."
Jonathan Tunick won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for his arrangements of Titanic. He has also been Tony-nominated for his orchestrations of A Catered Affair, Marie Christine, Follies, Nine, Pacific Overtures, LoveMusik and 110 in the Shade. Tunick has also arranged for Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, Itzhak Perlman, Placido Domingo, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and Paul McCartney. He is also the recipient of Emmy, Grammy and Academy Awards.