Apr. 29: André De Shields, Lewis Black, Chris Bohjalian, Felicia Boswell, David Bryan, Jackie Burns, Karen Burthright, Bobby Conte Thornton, Joe DiPietro, Ann Dowd, Rachel Dratch, Steve Guttenberg, Jeremy Jordan, Laiona Michelle, Nancy Opel, Maulik Pancholy, David Hyde Pierce, Renee Taylor, Mary Testa and Marlo Thomas Set for George Street Playhouse 2021 Virtual Gala

Former Governor Thomas H. Kean; Thomas F. Kelso, Esq. Chairperson of the New Brunswick Cultural Center; and James N. Heston, Chairperson of George Street Playhouse’s Board of Trustees will receive the Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award, at George Street Playhouse’s virtual gala benefit on April 29 at 7:30pm EST (Exclusive virtual lobby and mezzanine experience) and at 8:00pm EST (Presentation of the Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Awards and virtual cabaret performance). 

George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint, Mary Testa and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The event, which will take place in a virtual venue accessible from anywhere in the world through a computer or smart television, will feature performances by an incredible STAR-STUDDED ROSTER of Friends of George Street Playhouse; will allow guests to mingle via webcam and chat; and represents the latest in George Street’s forays into unique digital programming, highlighted by an ongoing streaming season for 2021.

The event will star: Lewis Black, Chris Bohjalian, Felicia Boswell, David Bryan, Jackie Burns, Karen Burthright, Bobby Conte Thornton, Joe DiPietro, Ann Dowd, Rachel Dratch, Steve Guttenberg, Jeremy Jordan, Laiona Michelle, Nancy Opel, Maulik Pancholy, David Hyde Pierce, Renee Taylor, Mary Testa and Marlo Thomas and a special surprise guest!

André De Shields, George Street Playhouse Board President and Gala chair Penelope Lattimer, Ph.D, George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint and Matt Podd. Photo by Lia Chang

“As President of the Board of Trustees, I am deeply honored to Chair George Street Playhouse’s star-filled virtual gala during this extraordinary time,” remarked Penelope L. Lattimer. “We look forward to welcoming patrons, friends, and new friends from around the globe, to participate in our celebration in support of George Street Playhouse.

To attend the Virtual Event on April 29, Gala Experience Tickets are $400 and can be purchased at http://www.georgestreetplayhouse.org .

The Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award was first presented in 1990 to former Governor Kean, whom it recognizes again this year. It pays tribute to an individual, corporation, or foundation whose dedication to the arts enhances the cultural life of New Jersey.

“We are thrilled to honor these three tremendous supporters, not only of the mission of George Street Playhouse, but of the arts across the state of New Jersey,” said George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint. “We are deeply moved by all the many extraordinary artists who have agreed to participate in this event benefiting George Street Playhouse.”

Thomas H. Kean served as governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990, was president of Drew University from 1990 to 2005, and served as chairman of the 9/11 Commission. As governor, he served on the President’s Education Policy Advisory Committee and as chair of the Education Commission of the States and the National Governors Association Task Force on Teaching.

He served on several committees and commissions, such as the American delegation to the UN Conference on Youth in Thailand, vice chairman of the American delegation to the World Conference on Women in Beijing, and President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.

“Former Governor Kean’s history of leadership has been marked by his longstanding advocacy for the arts in this state and his awareness that strengthening the cultural life of New Jersey strengthens the state as a whole,” Saint continued. “We could not be more thrilled to honor him once again with the award that bears his name.”

Thomas F. Kelso, Esq. is the Senior and Managing Partner of the New Brunswick law firm of Kelso & Burgess, Esqs. Mr. Kelso is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University and Brooklyn Law School and has practiced law in the State of New Jersey in a wide range of areas for over forty years. He possesses extensive knowledge and experience in civil litigation matters at the state and federal court levels, as well as in the areas of local and county land use, development and urban redevelopment.

Mr. Kelso also serves as Middlesex County Counsel and is the chief legal advisor to the Board of County Commissioners, and to other various County departments. He has served as Special Counsel to the New Brunswick Development Corporation since 1979, a position which involves all aspects of the City of New Brunswick’s revitalization and redevelopment initiatives.

He is a founding member and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc. and has previously served as the first Chairman of the Board of the State Theatre Regional Arts Center at New Brunswick, Inc.

“Thomas F. Kelso has played a vital role in Middlesex County’s unprecedented landmark commitment to the arts,” George Street Playhouse Managing Director Kelly Ryman said. “His decades of arts advocacy in Middlesex County have been instrumental in establishing the Middlesex County Arts and Cultural Trust Fund as well as the realization of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.”

James N. Heston, a retired executive vice-president of MetLife, is Chairman of George Street Playhouse’s Board of Trustees, of which he has been a member since 2009. During his tenure at MetLife, Heston was in charge of the Company’s Institutional Dental and Disability businesses and concluded his 39 year career as Global Head of Human Resources.

He was also a member of the board of trustees at RWJ Somerset since 1992 and served as its chairman in 2011 and 2012. He also is currently serving his 3rd term on the board of trustees at his alma mater – Gettysburg College. Prior to retirement, he was also a member of the Personnel Round Table, an invitation-based organization of 55 Chief Human Resource Officers, from primarily Fortune 100 companies.

“James N. Heston’s unwavering guidance continues to have a profound impact on George Street Playhouse during this incredible moment in its history,” Board President and Gala chair Penelope Lattimer, Ph.D., said. “He has been instrumental in the transition to our state-of-the-art new home at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, and his leadership allows us to continue our mission of producing groundbreaking new works and to make a documented impact on American theatre, Middlesex county, and the state.”

Asbury Park Press: How a gala breathed new life, hope into George Street Playhouse, theater

New Jersey Stage: George Street Playhouse Breaks Fundraising Record with Star Studded Virtual Gala

BroadwayWorld Photos: Jeremy Jordan, André Robin De Shields and More Join George Street Playhouse Virtual Gala

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