On Monday night, Lucille Lortel nominee Steven Eng (Pacific Overtures) was honored at the Prospect Theater Company 2019 Gala at Manhattan Penthouse along with Michelle McGorty and Harriet Slaughter.
The evening also recognized two decades of commitment and vision from the co-Founders of Prospect: Melissa Huber, Peter Mills, Cara Reichel, and Tony Vallés.
Tony and Grammy Award nominated actress Ashley Park (Mean Girls, KPOP) hosted the evening’s festivities which included cocktails, dinner and a concert event featuring favorite songs from Prospect’s history.
Chanel Karimkhani, Andrew Mayer, Lilli Thomas, Skyler Volpe, Cathryn Wake, members of the cast of The Hello Girls, the company’s recent Off-Broadway hit, were featured in an encore performance, alongside a line-up of other Broadway friends and Prospect artists including Ali Ewoldt, Devin Ilaw, Jason Ma, Diane Phelan, Hansel Tan, Hillary Fisher, Ben Moss, Mia Pinero, Ashley Park, Destinee Rea, LaDonna Burns, Tia DeShazor, A.J. Shively, Mary Kate Morrissey, Jennifer Blood, David Perlman, Simone Zamore and Bob Stillman.
The performances were directed by Christine O’Grady, with music direction by Andy Roninson on piano, Kiku Enomoto on violin, Brian Sanders on cello and Matt Scharfglass on bass.
Steven Eng’s relationship with Prospect spans over a decade, beginning as an actor with the 2007 musical workshop of Honor. That would lead to subsequent performances with Prospect, and in the last several years to a producing partnership with National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), the non-profit he co-founded in 2009. NAAP’s mission is to showcase the works of Asian-American theater artists through performance, outreach and educational programming.
A professional actor for over 20 years, he continues to perform (2018 Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for Pacific Overtures), direct (NAAP/Prospect’s 2018 Into the Woods), and teach on the faculty of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where his work as a voice, speech/text authority has also be presented at the national conferences of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association. As an advocate for diversity and inclusion, Mr. Eng has been interviewed on NPR and other medial outlets and served as a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. In May, he’ll appear in four performances of Jason Ma’s Gold Mountain in Utah as part of the Spike 150 celebration.
Nina Zoie Lam was on hand to celebrate her NAAP co-founder.
Ali Ewoldt, Devin Ilaw, Jason Ma, Diane Phelan and Hansel Tan performed “One Time, One Meeting” from Honor.
Frozen’s Jelani Alladin, a former student, presented Mr. Eng with his award.
Below is Mr. Eng’s speech:
“Monday, November 12, 2007, the first rehearsal for the work-in-progress musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It set in feudal Japan. It would only be Act 1 for this workshop, but to me, it was the taste of something that I knew would be extraordinary. This was my introduction to the gifts of Cara Reichel and Pete Mills, and the important company that we are here to celebrate tonight.
By the time the full 2-Act production of Honor had rehearsed, opened and closed half a year later, I already knew that my experience had been quite special. It remains so to this day. Just look at my incredibly talented friends who just performed for you tonight. And “Little Gray Stone” will always be one of the most cherished songs I will ever have the privilege of performing on any stage.”
Since co-founding National Asian Artists Project in 2009 with Baayork Lee and Nina Zoie Lam, my admiration for Prospect has only grown. I’ve learned that founding, running, and maintaining a non-profit theater company is hard. Producing new musicals is hard. Keeping the creative mind and heart lit when you must raise money to pay for actors, musicians, creative teams, designers, crews, costumes, sets, lights, sound, rehearsal spaces, performance venues … not to mention management, administration, marketing, development, office space … that’s … well … hard. And for 20 years.
So to Cara, Pete, Missy, Tony and the whole Prospect family, my hat’s off to you.
For myself, I’ve had the chance to wear several hats with Prospect, from actor to director to producing partner. And just as Prospect has recognized me as someone who has played a significant role in its growth, I can say unequivocally, the feeling is mutual.
So thank you for honoring me tonight, for allowing me a reason to bring my family from across the country to share in this remarkable evening, and here’s to what wonderful things lie ahead in our next 20 years.”
Michelle McGorty’s interest in musical theater started in the late 70’s, when her parents took her to a touring production of CATS. An avid performer from that moment on, she joined the Princeton University Triangle Club in college, where she served as the Vice President and Tour Manager, and met future Prospect founders Cara Reichel, Peter Mills and Melissa Huber. As one of Prospect’s earliest advocates, she joined its Board of Directors in 2005 and served through 2014, championing productions such as Golden Boy of the Blue Bridge and The Underclassman and helping the company grow by launching its first Gala. A positive force in all her endeavors, after graduating from Princeton, Ms. McGorty earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and spent 12 years Booz Allen Hamilton before experimenting with “mompreneurship” via her baking company, Sweet McG’s. She is currently the Triangle Club’s Alumni Board Secretary, where she continues to support young artists.
Harriet Slaughter has been a life-long advocate for the arts, including theater, dance, poetry and visual art. Her career began as a triple-threat performer on the stage – including the original Inherit the Wind and the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. Ms. Slaughter then went on to serve in senior executive leadership positions for Town Hall, Actors’ Equity, and The Broadway League. As co-president of the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), she co-produced the Women in Theatre TV series for CUNY-TV, hosted by Linda Winer of Newsday. For her achievements, she was honored by the New York Women’s Agenda with their Galaxy Award. Long a supporter of women in the arts, she was first introduced to Cara Reichel and the work of the Prospect Theater Company through the LPTW’s Lucille Lortel Committee and has since remained an avid Prospect supporter. She published a book of her original poetry and paintings, ARS POETICA and her paintings have also appeared in galleries in New York City. She regularly features her poetry at various venues on Long Island, where she now resides.
Proceeds from the evening will support Prospect’s mission to bring to life new musical theater by emerging theater artists. www.ProspectTheater.org
Prospect Theater Company is presenting a workshop staging of American Morning, with book, music and lyrics by Timothy Huang, from May 8 – 19, in the Mezzanine Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres. Marlo Hunter directs. The cast features James Seol, Hansel Tan, Andew Cristi, Chil Kong, Daniel Le, Dorcas Leung, Aaron Phillips and Isabel Santiago. For tickets and more information, click www.ProspectTheater.org.
James Seol, Hansel Tan, Andew Cristi, Chil Kong, Daniel Le, Dorcas Leung, Aaron Phillips and Isabel Santiago Set for Prospect Theater Company’s Workshop Production of AMERICAN MORNING by Timothy Huang, May 8 -19
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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