Each year, New Dramatists salutes an individual "who has made an outstanding artistic contribution to the American theatre."
Tributes were offered by Tony winner Elaine Stritch and New Dramatists artistic director Todd London. Tony and Academy Award winner Joel Grey and Peters’ Tony-nominated Gypsy co-star, John Dossett, offered musical tributes.
Guests were scheduled to include David Hyde Pierce, Judith Light, Celeste Holm, Nina Arianda, Michael Urie, Michael Cereveris, Jennifer Tilly, Holland Taylor, Laura Osnes, John Dossett, Phyllis Newman, Tracie Bennett, Jim Dale, Judy Kaye, Roger Rees, David Henry Hwang, Joyce Van Patten, Jon Robin Baitz, David Auburn, David Ives and Joyce Randolph.
“Bernadette Peters is one of those rare performing artists with an original voice,” says Todd London, artistic director, New Dramatists, in a previous statement. “She has brought a new sound into the theatre and continues to do so, in surprising and miraculous ways. By some sleight of magic, her singularity always manages to bring out the best and richest in the work of her composers and writers. So, of course New Dramatists is thrilled to honor her. We celebrate and sustain the original voices of writers and cherish the artistry that makes their creations sing. It will be a thrill for our 50 resident playwrights to sing praises back at her.”
Past luncheon honorees have included Roger Berlind, Julie Taymor, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, Chita Rivera, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, Glenn Close, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Jerry Herman, Terrence McNally, Barbara Cook, John Kander & Fred Ebb, August Wilson, George C. Wolfe and Gwen Verdon.
Founded in 1949 by Michaela O’Harra in association with Howard Lindsay, Richard Rodgers, Russel Crouse, Oscar Hammerstein II, John Golden, Moss Hart, Maxwell Anderson, John Wharton, Robert E. Sherwood and Elmer Rice, New Dramatists is "one of the country’s leading playwright centers and a nationally recognized new play laboratory, unrivaled in the depth and duration of our commitment to writers."