By Matthew Blank
14 May 2013
Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) is honoring Mitchell for his "outstanding artistry and creativity and breadth of his 30-year career." Director Jack O'Brien (Hairspray) presents Mitchell with the award at the gala, which is held from 7-10 PM.
Fierstein, who frequently collaborates with Mitchell (Tony-nominated book writer of Kinky Boots), emcees a tribute written by six-time Emmy Award winner Bruce Vilanch. Grammy Award winner and Tony nominee Cyndi Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics for Kinky Boots, will introduce a number from Kinky Boots included in the tribute.
Performers, who have worked with Mitchell throughout the years, include Sara Andreas, Annaleigh Ashford, Romelda Teron Benjamin, April Berry, D.B. Bonds, Butler, Paul Canaan, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Jennifer Cody, Rachel deBenedet, Lea DeLaria, Andre DeShields, Sara Gettelfinger, Gaelen Gilliland, Jason Gillman, Annie Golden, Nina Goldman, Greg Graham, Becky Gulsvig, Andy Karl, Nick Kenkel, Nancy Lemenager, Morrison, Rusty Mowery, Noah Racey, Pamela Remler, Tory Ross, Angie Schworer, Sarrah Strimel, Clarke Thorell, Winokur and Candice Woods.
Marc Bruni and Denis Jones co-direct the evening's tribute, with music direction by John McDaniel. Design consultants for the evening include David Rockwell (scenic), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Gregg Barnes (costumes) and David Patridge (sound). Dori Berinstein is directing the evening's video tributes to Mitchell. Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe, John McDaniel and Eric Kornfeld, and Marc Shaiman have all contributed original material to the tribute.
The "Mr. Abbott" Award, bestowed through SDCF by a committee of directors and choreographers to one of their peers, is named in honor of the late director George Abbott and is presented to a director or choreographer in recognition of Lifetime achievement. Past recipients include Hal Prince, Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, Agnes DeMille, Michael Bennett, Trevor Nunn, Susan Stroman, Graciela Daniele and, the 2011 recipient, George C. Wolfe.
Karen Azenberg, president of SDCF and SDC, the labor union representing professional stage directors and choreographers, said in a statement, "George Abbott was a man of incredible range and influence. With the ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award, we salute those birectors and choreographers who have, over the course of a career, moved the art form forward through artistry, imagination, and dedication. It is our privilege to honor Jerry Mitchell with this year’s ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award. Jerry has proven himself time and time again as a passionate and versatile artist, his dedication to the craft of direction and choreography is evident not just in his own work but in his support of future generations of directors and choreographers. His passion for theatre is infectious, he truly inspires those around him both artistically and with his deep personal commitment to the philanthropic efforts of this community."
Joy Abbott, the widow of George Abbott, added, "Jerry was in Mr. Abbott’s production of On Your Toes at the Virginia Theatre from 1983 – 1984. Even then, George recognized his talent and thought Jerry had great potential. I’m a fan of both Jerry and his work, and I’m pleased that he has made his mark on Broadway as an award-winning choreographer. It’s always gratifying to learn of the achievements of those who worked with George and performed under his direction. I know George would be especially pleased that Jerry is to receive the ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award."
Honoree Mitchell stated, "It is a joy to be this year's recipient of the ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award. I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Abbott, as well as collaborating with eight other Abbott award winners. This community, the Broadway community, is everything I have ever dreamed. To receive the ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award and join the distinguished list of past honorees makes it all a bit more than a dream. I am truly honored."
Jerry Mitchell received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for choreographing the 2005 Tony Award-winning revival of La Cage aux Folles, and was nominated for the Tony as choreographer of Legally Blonde and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Mitchell is currently directing and choreographing the forthcoming Broadway production of Kinky Boots, a new musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and a score by Cyndi Lauper with a planned opening on Broadway in April 2013, as well as The Honeymooners, a new musical based on the iconic Jackie Gleason television series. Mitchell made his Broadway and West End debuts as a director with Legally Blonde, which received an Olivier Award for Best Musical. He also served as choreographer for that musical and was nominated for both the Tony and Drama Desk awards for his choreography, as well as the Drama Desk Award for his direction. He received Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire Award nominations for choreographing Hairspray and Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations for choreographing The Full Monty and Never Gonna Dance.
Mitchell also conceived and created Broadway Bares, a comedy burlesque show performed annually for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The fundraising efforts have brought more than ten million dollars to Broadway Cares. Mitchell also serves on the board of BC/EFA.
For more information visit sdcweb.org.