PHOTO CALL: Women Writers Celebrated at Playwrights Horizons Gala
By Matthew Blank
Off-Broadway theatre company Playwrights Horizons held its annual spring gala May 6 at the event space 583 Park Avenue. Tony Award winners LaChanze and Shuler Hensley as well as Tony nominee Kerry Butler were among the evening's performers.
LaChanze (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Inked Baby and Once on This Island at PH, The Color Purple), Hensley (The Whale at PH, Oklahoma!) and Butler (The Call at PH, Xanadu) were joined by original cast members from the Tony-nominated Best Musical Once on This Island (Kecia Lewis-Evans, Andrea Frierson, Sheila Gibbs, Gerry McIntyre, Milton Craig Nealy and Nikki Rene Rodriguez with Kenya Brome) and the Obie Award-winning musical The Bubbly Black Girl (Cheryl Alexander, Angel Desai, Felicia Finley and Debra Walton with Kenita Miller) as well as Kathleen Chalfant, Kristine Nielsen, Deirdre O'Connell, Amy Ryan and Mary Testa.
The evening also featured the participation of PH alumni, including actress Amy Brenneman (Rapture, Blister, Burn at PH), Lynn Ahrens, Tanya Barfield (current The Call), Kirsten Childs, Kia Corthron, Lisa D'Amour, Bathsheba Doran, Madeleine George, Melissa James Gibson, Gina Gionfriddo, Kirsten Greenidge, Joy Gregory, Amy Herzog, Wendy MacLeod, Lynn Nottage, Sarah Ruhl (next season's Stage Kiss), Sarah Schulman, Jeanine Tesori, Kathleen Tolan, Anne Washburn (next season's Mr. Burns) and Kim Rosenstock (next season's Fly By Night).
Attendees included writers Samuel D. Hunter, Michael Korie and Dan LeFranc; directors Michael Greif, Anne Kauffman, Davis McCallum and Leigh Silverman; Tim Sanford; honoree Leslie Marcus; Judith O. Rubin and husband Robert E. Rubin; and Amy McIntosh and husband Jeffrey Toobin.
Titled Heroines, the evening, according to press notes, celebrated "the many distinguished Women Writers that have been produced in the company's 42 years. The theatre company's distinguished track record of producing the work of female writers, composers and librettists grows out of a commitment to present the best new American writing. In the past decade, the theatre company has been a national leader in supporting women's plays. In recent seasons, 50-65 percent of the plays produced annually have been written by women. (In the current 2012-13 Season, four of the six productions are written by women.) This accomplishment is substantially higher than the average, as less than 20 percent of the work seen on New York nonprofit stages is written by women."
The gala also celebrated Leslie Marcus on her 20th anniversary as the company's managing director. During her tenure, the annual budget has grown from $4.4 to $10 million. Among Marcus' many achievements is overseeing a $35 million capital campaign and the construction of the building the organization calls home.
In its 42 years, Playwrights has presented the works of 65 women writers in 90 productions. They are Lynn Ahrens, Christina Anderson, Annie Baker, Tanya Barfield, E.M. Broner, Anne Burr, Jane Chambers, Kirsten Childs, Julia Cho, Bess Coding, Anne Commire, Kia Corthron, Migdalia Cruz, Lisa D’Amour, Bathsheba Doran, Susan Dworkin, Marlane Elder, Sally Fay, Ellen Fitzhugh, Kate Fodor, Amy Freed, Eve Friedman, Melissa James Gibson, Gina Gionfriddo, Jessica Goldberg, Leslie Gore, Kirsten Greenidge, Joy Gregory, Roma Greth, Rinne Groff, Carol Hall, Laura Harrington, Leslye Headland, Amy Herzog, Susan Jack, Sarah Kernochan, Tina Landau, Dorothy Louise, Wendy MacLeod, Teresa Marffie, Lynn Martin, Marlane Meyer, Lynn Nottage, Kira Obolensky, Sally Ordway, Regina Porter, Margaret Power, Theresa Rebeck, Iris Rosofsky, Sarah Ruhl, Kirsten Sanderson, Sarah Schulman, Jo Ellen Sheffield, Marsha Sheiness, Lynn Siefier, Beverly Smith-Dawson, Kelly Stuart, Jeanine Tesori, Kathleen Tolan, Sarah Treem, Karen Trott, Wendy Wasserstein and Erin Cressida Wilson.
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