Annaleigh Ashford, Michael Potts, Edie Falco, Amber Gray, Mallory Portnoy, Marinda Anderson, Adrienne C. Moore and More to Take Part in The 52nd Street Project’s Virtual Gala Honoring Crystal Dickinson & Brandon Dirden

The 52nd Street Project has quickly adapted to a “new normal” in the time of COVID-19. With an understanding that it is now more important than ever to stay connected in an era of social distancing, The Project has modified its programming for digital platforms as a way to engage project members. It is offering workshops in Playmaking, Songmaking, and Artmaking, among other activities. Similarly, The 52nd Street Project is excited to roll out their virtual gala, Game Changers: Celebrating Two Key Players Crystal A. Dickinson & Brandon J. Dirden hosted by Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale, as a way to connect with their community while raising funds for the organization.

Serving as a significant fundraiser for the non-profit organization, the annual gala brings together The 52nd Street Project community to celebrate the contributions of individuals who have made a big impact on the organization, Crystal A. Dickinson and Brandon J. Dirden. Originally set to take place in-person on May 4, The Project’s gala had to be reimagined for the current climate of physical distancing. In light of COVID-19, fundraising is more crucial than ever. All of The 52nd Street Project’s programming comes at no expense to its project members, and all performances that the organization produces at its Five Angels Theater are free to the public. Donations and funds raised from the annual gala ensures that The Project can continue to reach as many young creatives as possible in a way that is both accessible and cost-effective.

Additionally, The 52nd Street Project’s annual gala shines a spotlight on some of the original work that has been generated by its project members. Keeping in that tradition, this year’s event will feature songs written by young people in previous Playmaking and Songmaking programs that will be performed by Annaleigh Ashford & Joe Tapper; Marinda Anderson & Adrienne C. Moore; Edie Falco & Stephen Wallem; Amber Gray; Mallory Portnoy; Michael Potts; Natalie Walker, and more. Fans and friends of The 52nd Street Project are encouraged to stop by the virtual gala website where they can lend their support through donations and stream the performances. New videos will be posted throughout the three week period.

The 52nd Street Project invites YOU to be a Game Changer! Please visit to support.

Crystal A. Dickinson and Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang
Crystal A. Dickinson and Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang

Crystal A. Dickinson appeared on Broadway in You Can’t Take It With You and Clybourne Park. She is the recipient of the 2012 Theatre World Award, and the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 Jenny Award for Best Actress. Off-Broadway, she has appeared in The Low Road at The Public Theater; The Call and Clybourne Park at Playwrights Horizons; Funnyhouse of a Negro and The First Breeze of Summer at Signature TheatreBroke-ology at Lincoln Center; Born Bad at Soho Rep; Sundown Names and Night-gone Things at Negro Ensemble Company, Bottom of the World at Atlantic Theater. Regional: Contemporary American Theater Festival, Baltimore Centerstage, 7 Stages, Georgia Shakespeare, Houston Shakespeare, Illinois Shakespeare, Synchronicity, The Alliance, Theatre-in- the-Square, Two River Theater. Her TV credits include New Amsterdam, The ChiThe Good Wife and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. She has appeared in the films Collateral BeautyThis Is Where I Leave YouI Origins. Education: MFA University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, London Academy for Music and Dramatic Art, Lincoln Center Directors Lab and a proud volunteer at the 52nd Street Project.

Brandon J. Dirden starred on Broadway as Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Tony Award-winning production of All the Way, with Bryan Cranston, and as Booster in the Tony Award-winning revival of August Wilson’s Jitney. Additional Broadway credits include Clybourne Park, Enron, and Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway, he has appeared in The Piano Lesson, for which he won Obie, Theatre World, and AUDELCO awards; The First Breeze of Summer and Day of Absence at Signature Theatre; Detroit ’67 at the Public Theater and Classical Theatre of Harlem; Peter and the Starcatcher at New York Theatre Workshop and as ‘Brutus’ in TFANA’s production of Juilius Caesar. On screen, he has appeared in “The Good Wife,” “For Life,” “The Big C,” “Public Morals,” “Manifest,” “The Get Down,” “The Accidental Wolf,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Quad,” and four seasons of FX’s “The Americans” as Agent Dennis Aderholt. He is currently shooting the upcoming ABC series “For Life” and recently completed work on the FX miniseries, “Mrs. America.” He has directed numerous plays by Dominique Morriseau and August Wilson. Brandon is a frequent volunteer at the 52nd Street Project and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and Fair Wage On Stage.

The mission of The 52nd Street Project, a community-based arts organization, is to bring together kids from Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, starting at age ten and lasting through their teens, with theater professionals to create original theater offered free to the general public. By building on the core experience of accomplishment and collaboration, the Project fosters a sense of inclusion in a place where the children belong and where their creative work is the driving force. Through long-term mentoring relationships and exposure to diverse art forms (including Spoken Word, Photography, Theatrical Design, Dance, Stage Combat and Filmmaking), the Project seeks to expand the children’s means of expression and to improve their literacy, their life skills and their attitude towards learning.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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 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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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