By Andrew Gans
12 Mar 2012
The honorees include Freddie Gershon, a longtime theatrical licensing executive who created a program of kids’ versions of Broadway works; Artie Siccardi, a production supervisor who has overseen more than 200 Broadway shows; and TDF Open Doors, a program that introduces New York City public high school students to theatre through mentorships with theatre professionals.
The Honors will be presented at the annual Tony Eve Cocktail Party, which will take place June 9, the evening before the 2012 Tony Awards, at the InterContinental Times Square Hotel.
“The Tony Eve Cocktail Party gives us the opportunity to not only celebrate the year’s Tony nominees, but to also give our sincere thanks and appreciation to the everyday heroes in our community,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, in a statement.
Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theatre Wing, added, “This year’s recipients of the Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre -- Freddie Gershon, Artie Siccardi and the TDF Open Doors Program -- have all made extraordinary contributions to our community and are true champions to be celebrated."
About his honor, Gershon told Playbill.com, “I’m appreciative of the recognition by the theatre community and colleagues and feel honored and humbled at the same time. But as with the actual creation of a musical, it is impossible to create something new without the collaboration of many people with different talents. The same is true when a musical has to be transformed three dimensionally for its actual performance. With the Broadway Junior Collection of musicals I am blessed with the MTI family of talents which served as my collaborators in helping to implement it, along with young incubation companies which evolved from MTI and have continued to reconceive the student materials with invaluable feedback and are indispensible collegial collaborators.”
Tony Honors were established in 1990 and are awarded annually to "institutions, individuals and/or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre, but are not eligible in any of the established Tony Award categories," according to press notes.
The 2012 Tony Awards will be broadcast live June 10 on CBS, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
Details about the honorees, according to the Tony Awards, follow:
In 1994, Mr. Gershon conceived Music Theatre International’s Broadway KIDS/Broadway JR. introducing musical theatre in 30- and 60-minute versions of Broadway works to elementary and middle schools adapted for performance by students (author approved). This American art form is kept alive as students experience the process of performing their own productions of an authentic Broadway musical while collaborating with their fellow students on costumes, sets & other theatre crafts. Since 1994, over 70,000 separate productions have taken place in America, involving 4,000,000 children.
Since 1977, Mr Siccardi, Production Supervisor of Arthur Siccardi Theatrical Services, Inc. has overseen more than 200 Broadway productions including: Gypsy; Grease; A Chorus Line; Chicago; Hello, Dolly!; Cats; The Real Thing; Ballroom; Dreamgirls; Broadway Bound; Chess; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Jerome Robbins' Broadway; City of Angels; Biloxi Blues; Annie; Dirty Dancing; My One and Only; Victor/Victoria; My Fair Lady; Sunset Boulevard; Fiddler on the Roof; Mamma Mia!; and Annie Get Your Gun; and he has worked alongside directors such as Mike Nichols; Michael Bennett; Jerome Robbins; Tommy Tune; Gower Champion and Michael Blakemore.
TDF Open Doors: Through Theatre Development Fund’s arts education program, TDF Open Doors, mentors introduce New York City public high school students to theatre. These mentors are working theatre professionals (directors, actors, producers, playwrights, etc.) rich with knowledge of theatre craft and history. Founded in 1998 by TDF and playwright Wendy Wasserstein, the program operates on the belief that theatregoing is the birthright of every New Yorker. Each mentor is matched with eight high school seniors from an underserved New York City high school, and brings the students to six Broadway and/or Off Broadway performances over the course of an entire school year. These talented and accomplished mentors are the best possible ambassadors to introduce the arts to young people as they engage their groups in lively, in-depth post-performance discussions and journaling. TDF Open Doors has proven that through this personal and dynamic interaction, a deep appreciation of theatre an understanding of its relevance is fostered in the students’ lives. For more information go to: www.tdf.org/opendoors.