On Monday, February 12 at 6:00 pm, the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), dedicated to championing women in theatre since its inception and an authority at the forefront of the conversation about gender parity in American theatre for 35 years, is presenting Broadway Performer, Director, and Choreographer, Baayork Lee.
A recipient of the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson TONY Award, Lee was honored for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.
Lee, who originated the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, will be discussing her extensive life and work in the theatre with theatre writer Robert Viagas, her collaborator and biographer on their book, “On the Line: the Creation of A Chorus Line”.The event will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on 65th Street & Amsterdam Avenue. Admission is free, seats are available on a first-come-first-seated basis. Doors open at 5:30PM, and it is recommended that members of the public arrive at the Bruno Walter Auditorium by 5PM to secure a seat.
“I first met Baayork in 1975 when the Library videotaped Michael Bennett’s original A CHORUS LINE at The Public Theatre,” says producer Betty Corwin. “Baayork had become Michael’s closest collaborator and since he died in 1987 she has directed or choreographed 35 International productions of the musical. In addition, Baayork is acknowledged and appreciated for committing herself to the National Asian Artists Project and theatre eduction programs around the world. I am so proud to know her.”
The League has major support from the Edith Meiser Foundation covering interviews with such notables as Billie Allen, Mercedes Ruehl, Tyne Daly, Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Kia Corthron, Donna Murphy, Frances McDormand, Laura Linney and many others. The ongoing Oral History Project chronicles and documents the contributions of significant theatre women in all fields. The interviews are videotaped and preserved for posterity in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and with funds from the NYS Council on the Arts, a state agency, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Baayork Lee has performed in a dozen Broadway shows and created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line. As Michael Bennett’s assistant choreographer on A Chorus Line, she has directed and choreographed many national and international companies in Klagenfurt, Austria, Santiago, Chile, Hollywood Bowl and Pace University. Her directing and choreography credits also include: The King and I and Bombay Dreams (National tours), R&H’s Cinderella (NYC Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (Kennedy Center), Porgy and Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar (European tours), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed shows including; Miss Saigon (KC Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific (Helen Hayes nominations,) Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees all at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
Through her nonprofit organization, National Asian Artists Project, Baayork’s vision includes educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent through the many programs the company offers. The organization has produced classical musical theatre shows such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, and OLIVER! with all Asian-American casts. NAAP has made audiences more aware that talent goes beyond ethnicity.
Robert Viagas transformed theatre journalism as the architect and founding editor (1994) of the first and still biggest theatre site on the web, Playbill.com. He enjoyed the rare honor of serving on the nominating committee for the Tonys (2012-2014). He hosted the Tony Awards webcasts from 2002 to 2008, and was editor of the special Tony Awards Playbill from 2002 to 2010. The New York Times’ CyberTimes described him as “encyclopedic” in his knowledge of Broadway.
Among his other books, he was chosen by the creators of the original The Fantasticks to tell their story in The Amazing Story of “The Fantasticks” (Citadel). On the Line was translated into Japanese and published in Japan and his 2012 book Scales to Scalpels (with Lisa Wong) was translated into Chinese and published in China.
When it comes to the challenging but fruitful area of collaboration he literally wrote the book on it-The Alchemy of Theatre (Applause Books), in which he worked with the likes of Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, Hal Prince, Chita Rivera and others to codify how one collaborates in the world of theatre. His 2009 book I’m the Greatest Star!
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in the professional theatre will recognize the talents of six outstanding women: Carol Hall, Linda Cho, Lilieana Blain-Cruz, Liesl Tommy, Jess Chayes and Emily Simoness on Friday, March 31, 2017.
The awards will be presented at the League’s 2017 Awards Celebration, hosted by Tamara Tunie, held at 6:30 pm on Friday, March 31 at The Times Center (242 West 41st Street), with the Big Mingle happening directly after at Sardi’s (234 West 44th Street, 2nd floor). Tickets to attend the Awards Ceremony & Big Mingle reception are $85-$300. All tickets are available online at web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10144002.
Carol Hall, composer/lyricist/playwright, creator of the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas which won two Drama Desk Awards and a Grammy nomination for its cast album, will be presented with The Lifetime Achievement Award by Julie Gilbert (novelist, biographer, playwright and teacher. National Book Critic’s Circle Award Nomination for Ferber: A Biography of Edna Ferber and Her Circle (Doubleday) and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Opposite Attraction: The Lives of Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard (Pantheon)).
The Ruth Morley Design Award was initiated in 1998 in honor of costume designer Ruth Morley, one of the profession’s leading designers for theatre and film who also served on the LPTW Board of Directors. It is given annually to an outstanding female theatre designer in the field of costumes, scenery, lighting, or special effects. This year the award will be presented by Darko Tresnjak (2014 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for his direction of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) to costume designer Linda Cho his current collaborator on Anastasia and who won a Tony Award for Tresnjak’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
The Josephine Abady Award is given in memory of Josephine R. Abady, a stage and artistic director, and leader of the nonprofit theatre movement in the United States. The award is given annually to a woman theatre artist who has created work of cultural diversity. This year’s recipient is the director Lileana Blain-Cruz (Suzan Lori-Parks’ The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Signature Theater).
The Lee Reynolds Award, in memory of producer and League member Lee Reynolds, is given annually to a woman or women active in any aspect of theatre whose work through the medium of theatre has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change. Liesl Tommy, Tony-Nominated director of the Broadway and Public Theater Productions of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, receives this year’s award.
In April 1999, the LPTW received a bequest from the Lucille Lortel estate to establish a fund which would be given annually to “an aspiring woman in any discipline of theatre who is showing great creative promise and deserves recognition and encouragement.” This year’s award will be given to Jess Chayes, Co-Artistic Director of The Assembly.
The LPTW Lucille Lortel Visionary Award, which also receives a grant from the aforementioned fund, is given on occasion to an aspiring woman working in any discipline of theatre outside traditional production who exemplifies creative promise and deserves recognition and encouragement. This year’s award goes to SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Emily Simoness for her record of innovative commitment to inclusion and equity in development and support of artists.
Early bird tickets to attend the Awards Ceremony & Big Mingle reception are $85 for members and $100 for non-members until March 13th. After March 13th, tickets will be $100 for members and $135 for non-members. VIP tickets are also available for $275-$300. All tickets are available online at web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10144002.
ABOUT THE HONOREES:
Lileana Blain-Cruz (Josephine Abady Award) Recent projects include Suzan Lori-Parks’ The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theater), a devised production of SALOME (LMCC on Governor’s Island, JACK), Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins War (LCT3, Yale Rep), Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again (Soho Rep), Lucas Hnath’s Red Speedo (New York Theater Workshop), Much Ado About Nothing ( Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Christina Anderson’s Hollow Roots (Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater); a new translation of The Bakkhai ( Fisher Center of Performing Arts at Bard College); A Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic, a collaboration with Jacobs-Jenkins and choreographer Isabel Lewis (Dance New Amsterdam). MFA Yale School of Drama. Upcoming projects include Henry IV Part 1 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at the Guthrie, and Dominique Morrisseau’s Pipeline at Lincoln Center.
JESS CHAYES (LPTW Lucille Lortel Award) is a Brooklyn-based director and founding co-artistic director of The Assembly, with whom she has co-created and directed eight original productions, including I Will Look Forward To This Later (New Ohio Theater/IRT Theater Archive Residency) and HOME/SICK (NY Times and Backstage Critics’ Pick). Recent directing includes Half Moon Bay (Lesser America), Primal Play (New Georges), The Bachelors (Williamstown Theater Festival), The Sister (Dutch Kills), and The Netflix Plays (Ars Nova). She has developed new work with The Vineyard Theatre, The Playwrights Center and New York Theatre Workshop, among others. Jess is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a co-founder of The New Georges Jam artists’ lab, and alum of The Civilians R&D Group and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Associate Director on Peter and the Starcatcher (Brooks Atkinson Theater and New World Stages) and Misery (Broadhurst Theater).www.jesschayes.com
Linda Cho (Ruth Morley Design Award), among her costume design successes in theater have been the Broadway productions of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award); Velocity of Autumn and the upcoming new musical Anastasia. Off-Broadway: Theatre for a New Audience; Manhattan Theatre Club; Second Stage; The Public; Classic Stage Company; Atlantic Theater Company. Regional: Hartford Stage; Long Wharf; The Old Globe; Berkeley Rep; La Jolla Playhouse; Arena Stage; The Guthrie; The Goodman; Chicago Shakespeare Theater; ACT (San Francisco); Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Williamstown Theatre Festival; Goodspeed. Opera: Los Angeles Opera; Virginia Opera; Opera Theatre of St. Louis. International: The Stratford Shakespeare Festival; The Royal Shakespeare Company; Canadian Stage Company. Member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and the proud recipient of the Irene Sharaff Young Master Award. She received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama; her undergraduate degree from McGill University, and a Certificate of Fine Arts and Fashion from the Paris American Academy.
Carol Hall’s (Lifetime Achievement Award) songs have been performed by such extraordinary singers as Tony Bennett, Barbara Cook, Barbra Streisand, Chita Rivera, Mabel Mercer, Marlo Thomas, RuPaul, Frederica von Stade, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird. Her Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas won two Drama Desk Awards, a Grammy nomination for its cast album and became a popular film starring Burt Reynoldsand Dolly Parton. Dolly’s recording of Carol’s song “Hard Candy Christmas” generated an ASCAP “Most Performed Country Song” Award. Recently, Cyndi Lauper recorded it with Alison Krauss, and this season, Reba McEntire included the song in her “My Kind of Christmas” CD. The song is listed among “The Best Christmas Songs Ever.” WHOREHOUSE continues to be one of the most endearing and popular musicals performed around the world.
Other theater scores are: Good Sports (Goodspeed Opera,) Are We There Yet? (Williamstown Theater Festival,) To Whom It May Concern (Off-Broadway) and (lyrics) Paper Moon (Paper Mill Playhouse,) and, most recently, lyrics for a musical based on Truman Capote’s classic story A Christmas Memory (book: Duane Poole, music: Larry Grossman.) A particular joy of Carol’s is writing for children. For ten years, she wrote for Sesame Street and was one of the major contributors to Marlo Thomas’ ground-breaking “Free to Be… You and Me” (Emmy Award, Gold album). Her first non-musical work, The Days are As Grass, is licensed by Samuel FrencH. Hall is a Lifetime Member of the Dramatists Guild Council and a major supporter of the Dramatists Guild Fund. www.carolhall.net
Liesl Tommy (Lee Reynolds Award) is an award-winning stage director. Her credits include the Broadway and Public Theater Productions of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (Tony Award Nomination for Best Director), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate at the Signature Theatre and Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Good Negro at The Public Theater. World premieres also include: Kid Victory, Party People, A Melancholy Play. Other credits: The Good Negro, The Urban Retreat, LES MISERABLES, Hamlet, A Raisin in the Sun, The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ruined. She has worked at DTC, California Shakespeare Theater, Center Stage, Sundance East Africa, among others. Tommy is Associate Director at Berkeley Rep and serves as a Program Associate and Artist Trustee at Sundance Institute Theatre Program. She facilitated the inaugural Sundance East Africa Theatre Director’s Lab. Awards: Obie Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Pioneer of the Arts Award, Lillian Hellman Award, Alan SchneiderAward, Susan Stroman Award, an NEA/TCG Directors Grant and NYTW Casting/Directing Fellowship.
Emily Simoness (LPTW Lucille Lortel Visionary Award) is an entrepreneur, teacher, facilitator, motivational speaker and the founder and Executive Director of SPACE on Ryder Farm, a nonprofit artist residency program committed to supporting and developing artists and activists and their work. ?Housed on 130 acres of organic farmland in Brewster, NY, SPACE has quickly become one of the premier centers for new play development in the country. Additionally, she has developed and taught curriculum for The North Carolina School of the Arts and NYU. In ’13, she was the chief of staff for the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition. In ’15 she gave a talk at TEDx Broadway. Emily holds a BFA from UNCSA where she is the inaugural Kenan Arts Research Fellow. She’s on the Advisory Board of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and is on the Board of Directors for Ryder Farm Inc., the entity that owns Ryder Farm. www.spaceonryderfarm.org
The League of Professional Theatre Women is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It presents numerous events each year as part of its mission to promote visibility and increase opportunities for women in the field. None of its work is possible without generous philanthropic support. The League will soon celebrate its thirty-fifth anniversary, and boasts a membership of over 500 women theatre professionals in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. League members are actors, administrators, agents, arrangers, casting directors, choreographers, company managers, composers, critics, designers, directors, dramaturges, dramatists, educators, general managers, historians, journalists, librettists, lyricists, press agents, playwrights, producers, stage managers, and theatre technicians. To find out more about how you can support its endeavors, visit www.theatrewomen.org and click on the “Support Us” tab.