By Andrew Gans
28 Jan 2008
|Photo by Greg Kalafatas|
This year's inductees include 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 will be inducted posthumously.
Presenters for the evening include directors Harold Prince and Mike Nichols, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, LaMama ETC founder Ellen Stewart, playwright Alfred Uhry and Shubert Organization Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld.
The sold-out evening, which includes the ceremony at the Gershwin and a dinner at Sardi's, also features the presentation of the 2007 Founders Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Theater to Broadway manager-producer Roy Somlyo. Somlyo managed and produced over 40 Broadway shows and was president of the American Theater Wing from 1998-2003. He was also managing producer of the annual Tony Awards from 1967-2002.
Eligible nominees for the Theater Hall of Fame 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.
Last year's inductees included actors Patti LuPone, George Hearn and Elizabeth Wilson; playwright Brian Friel; and designers Willa Kim and Eugene Lee. Playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson were inducted posthumously.
John Cullum, a two-time Tony winner for his work in Shenandoah and On the Twentieth Century, has also starred on Broadway in 110 in the Shade, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Urinetown, Camelot, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Boys in Autumn, Hamlet, 1776, All My Sons, Show Boat and Old Money. Also a film and TV star, his screen credits include "The Secret Life of Algernon," "1776," "Sweet Country," "Hawaii," "Northern Exposure," "Law & Order" and "Touched By An Angel." He previously appeared at the George Street Playhouse in Ancestral Voices.
Harvey Fierstein won two 1983 Tony Awards — Best Actor in a Play and Best Play — for his groundbreaking opus Torch Song Trilogy. He also won a Best Book of a Musical Tony in 1984 for Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles, and a Best Actor in a Musical Tony for Hairspray. Fierstein’s other plays include Safe Sex, Spookhouse and Forget Him. His film credits include "Independence Day," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Bullets Over Broadway," "The Times of Harvey Milk" and "Torch Song Trilogy." He wrote and starred in HBO’s "Tidy Endings," which brought him an ACE Award. Fierstein also published the children’s book "The Sissy Duckling." Fierstein's musical with John Bucchino, A Catered Affair, will arrive on Broadway later this season.
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.
Lois Smith won a Lucille Lortel Award for The Trip to Bountiful at the Signature Theatre Off-Broadway. Her Broadway credits include Buried Child (Tony nomination), The Grapes of Wrath (Tony nomination), The Young and Beautiful and the original Orpheus Descending. Her film credits include "East of Eden," "Five Easy Pieces," "Falling Down," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "How to Make an American Quilt," "Dead Man Walking," "Larger Than Life," "Minority Report" and "Twister." She will return to the New York stage later this season in 100 Saints You Should Know.
Jack O'Brien won Tony Awards for his direction of The Coast of Utopia, Hairspray and Henry IV. He was also Tony-nominated for his work on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Invention of Love, The Full Monty, Two Shakespearean Actors and Porgy and Bess. O'Brien became the artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, in 1981.
Peter Shaffer is the playwright of the Tony Award-winning Best Plays Equus and Amadeus. He also penned Lettice and Lovage, White Liars & Black Comedy, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, The Private Ear and the Public Eye and Five Finger Exercise.
Tony Award winner Joseph Stein penned the books to the musicals Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba, Carmelina, King of Hearts, Rags, The Baker's Wife, Irene, The Body Beautiful, Plain and Fancy, Take Me Along and So Long, 174th Street. He is currently being saluted by the York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti series with concert stagings of four of his musicals.
The late Mel Gussow was a theatre critic for The New York Times from 1969-2005.