“The Dramatists Guild is such a beacon of support for so many writers, many of whom we’re friends with and collaborators with,” says George Salazar, star of the upcoming Broadway musical Be More Chill. “So to be asked to be a part of this evening with such a star-studded lineup and all my musical theatre heroes—like Stephen Schwartz is standing there and talking to Andrew Lippa right now—that’s just really cool.”
Indeed, the stars came out for the annual Dramatists Guild Foundation Gala at the Manhattan Center November 12. Honoring Tony-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick, Estée Lauder Companies’ Executive Group President John Demsey, and Chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group Faith Hope Consolo, the sixth annual gala celebrate the continued support of emerging writers and creators in theatre.
During its over 50-year history, the organization has served over 16,000 writers and students. Through DGF Fellows, emerging artists pair with professional mentors to find their voice; through Traveling Masters, students across the country learn through master classes and writing events; through Music Hall songwriters find a piano and a space free of charge; and DGF also provides grants and more programming to ensure the future of art.
As such, the evening, hosted by Tony nominee Kate Baldwin, featured performances of new works Be More Chill (which begins Broadway performances February 13, 2019), Jagged Little Pill (which enjoyed its premiere at A.R.T. this past summer), HUZZAH (which began at the Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Secret Life of Bees (which will have an Off-Broadway run at Atlantic Theatre Company this spring), and The Prom (which is now in previews and officially opens on Broadway November 15).
Eisa Davis and Jai’len Josey sang a mashup of “Sign My Name” and “Trouble on the House” from The Secret Life of Bees. The Heathers and Mean Girls’ composer and lyricist pair, Larry O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, introduced “Stowaway” performed by Stephanie Styes and Kyle Selig from HUZZAH. Jason ‘Sweetooth’ Williams and Salazar performed “The Pants Song” from Be More Chill. The Prom’s composer and lyricist Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin introduced Josh Lamon singing “Barry’s Going to the Prom,” and Tom Kitt introduced Elizabeth Stanley’s performance of “Smiling” from Jagged Little Pill.
Alan Cumming, Stephen Schwartz, Theresa Rebeck, Matthew Saldivar & Jason Butler Harner, Anthony Wilkinson, Amanda Green, Duncan Sheik, Jason Butler Harner, Laurence O’Keefe, Peppermint, and Luke Caswell also took to the stage to show their support.
“[This celebration] is for all writers because individually we’re more or less powerless but as a group we have some power,” says Harnick.
“As someone who exclusively tries to work on new pieces,” says Williams, ”I owe my livelihood and career to new writers.”