The evening honors actors Patti LuPone, George Hearn and Elizabeth Wilson; playwright Brian Friel; and designers Willa Kim and Eugene Lee. Playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson will be inducted posthumously.
In addition to Lansbury and Seldes, presenters for the evening will include Peter Weller, George Grizzard, William Ivey Long, Jack Viertel and Oskar Eustis. Constanza Romero Wilson will accept the honor for her late husband, August Wilson; Pamela Wasserstein will accept for her aunt, the late Wendy Wasserstein.
Host Phylicia Rashad earned her Tony Award for her work in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun; she will reprise that performance for the upcoming ABC television adaptation. Best known to television audiences as the matriarch on "The Cosby Show," Rashad has also appeared onstage in Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, Blue, Helen, The Story and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death.
Nominees for the Theatre 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. A Tony Award winner for her work in Evita, Patti LuPone also earned an Olivier Award for her performances in the West End productions of Lés Misérables and The Cradle Will Rock. Her other theatrical credits include Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Oliver!, Working, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class and Pal Joey. LuPone also headlined two solo Broadway concerts, Patti LuPone On Broadway and Matters of the Heart, and received glowing notices for her performance as Mrs. Lovett in the Lincoln Center concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and a Tony nomination for her performance in the recent revival of that Sondheim work. She was seen in the Kennedy Center's staging of Marc Blitzstein's Regina, and she also portrayed Mama Rose in the Ravinia Festival's recent mounting of Gypsy.
Most recently on Broadway in Wicked, George Hearn won Tony Awards for his performances in La Cage aux Folles and Sunset Boulevard and was also nominated for his work in Watch on the Rhine, A Doll's Life and Putting It Together. Hearn's other Broadway credits include Meet Me in St. Louis; Ghetto; Ah, Wilderness!; Whodunnit; I Remember Mama; Sweeney Todd: An Almost Perfect Person; Hamlet; The Changing Room; 1776; and A Time for Singing.
Elizabeth Wilson won a 1972 Tony Award for her performance in Sticks and Bones. Her numerous Broadway credits also include Waiting in the Wings; A Delicate Balance; Ah, Wilderness!; You Can't Take it With You; Morning's at Seven; The Importance of Being Earnest; Threepenny Opera; Uncle Vanya; The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild; The Good Woman of Setzuan; Sheep on the Runway; Plaza Suite; The Little Foxes; Big Fish, Little Fish; The Tunnel of Love; The Desk Set; and Picnic.
Born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Brian Friel's plays include Philadelphia, Here I Come!; The Loves of Cass McGuire; Lovers; Crystal and Fox; The Gentle Island; The Freedom of the City; Living Quarters; Volunteers; Aristocrats; Translations; The Communication Cord; Fathers and Sons; Making History; Dancing at Lughnasa; Wonderful Tennessee; Molly Sweeney; and Give Me Your Answer, Do!. Friel won the Tony for Best Play for Dancing at Lughnasa and was nominated for Lovers and Philadelphia, Here I Come!.
Willa Kim won Tony Awards for Best Costume Design for The Will Rogers Follies and Sophisticated Ladies and was also nominated for her work on Legs Diamond, Song and Dance, Dancin' and Goodtime Charley. Her most recent Broadway credits include Victor/Victoria, Grease and Four Baboons Adoring the Sun. She is currently represented Off-Broadway with the new musical Adrift in Macao.
Eugene Lee — who is designing the sets for the Broadway-bound Pirate Queen — won Tony Awards for his work on Wicked, Sweeney Todd and Candide and was nominated for his designs for Ragtime. His many other credits include Seussical, A Moon for the Misbegotten, On the Waterfront, Show Boat, The Hothouse, Agnes of God, Merrily We Roll Along and The Skin of Our Teeth.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson died Oct. 3, 2005 of lung cancer. Mr. Wilson was 60. On Oct. 16 the Virginia Theatre was renamed the August Wilson Theatre in his honor. Among his many plays are Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney and King Hedley II.
Tony Award-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein died on Jan. 30 at the age of 55. Wasserstein earned the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for The Heidi Chronicles — which also won her a Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Her other plays include Isn’t It Romantic, The Sisters Rosensweig, Uncommon Women and Others, An American Daughter, Old Money and the recent Third.