Tony Winner André De Shields to Host LPTW's Rachel Crothers Leadership Award Luncheon on 6/27 @ Sardi's
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 10:50 am EDT 06/11/19




The League of Professional Theatre Women (Kelli Lynn Harrison and Catherine Porter, Co-Presidents), an organization which has been leading the gender parity conversation and championing women in the professional theatre for over 35 years, is pleased to announce that 2019 Tony Award-winner André De Shields (Hadestown) will host their inaugural Rachel Crothers Leadership Award Luncheon to honor Donna Walker-Kuhne, on Thursday, June 27 from 12-3pm at Sardi’s Restaurant (234 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036). The event will also feature a special performance by LaChanze (2006 Tony Award winner for The Color Purple; Summer: The Donna Summer Musical). Tickets: Members $95; Non-Members $125.00; VIP tickets $175 (includes journal ad); VIP table $1,700 (with a journal ad). For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.theatrewomen.org.

The American Theatre Wing is best known as the creator of the coveted “Tony Award” given annually for distinguished achievement in the Broadway theatre, but it began as a service organization providing war relief. In 1917, seven visionary theatre women led by playwright/director Rachel Crothers, came together to organize members of the theatrical community at a time when women could not even vote. Their service to fellow Americans fighting on the front lines in World War I and World War II upheld America’s highest ideal—sacrifice for a common cause. Remarkably, while leading the theatre community in supporting the war effort, Crothers, a founder of The American Theater Wing and Its Stage Door Canteen, for 30 years had one play per season produced on Broadway - many of which she produced and directed. The New York Times said, “In the last 200 years, a respectable number of women have left their mark on American theater, but few of them have had as impressive a career as Rachel Crothers.” In the spirit of selfless service to her fellow Americans while simultaneously making significant contributions to the American theatre, the Rachel Crothers Leadership Award is given to a theatre woman who has distinguished herself in exemplary service and sacrifice for a common cause—a cause which leaves our society and the world a little better than the way we found it.

Acknowledged as the nation’s foremost expert in Audience Development by the Arts & Business Council, Donna Walker-Kuhne, an award-winning arts marketing consultant has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. She is the founder of Walker International Communications Group, a boutique marketing, press and audience development consulting agency. Her team specializes in multicultural marketing, group sales, multicultural press, and promotional events. Walker-Kuhne has gained unique insights into the challenges of initiating conversations and building meaningful partnerships with diverse constituents.

In a career spanning fifty years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. Mr. De Shields is an esteemed alumnus of both the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2004 Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa) and New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. André received his 3rd Tony nomination for his role as Hermes in Anais Mitchell's HADESTOWN, currently playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre. André will receive the Actors' Equity Foundation's 2019 Richard Seff Award and has been nominated for a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. His numerous accolades include a second honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (SUNY-Buffalo State College), the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, a 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement, Florida Atlantic University’s 2014 Making Waves Award, the Theatre School at DePaul University 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Riant Theatre’s 2016 Pioneer of the Arts Award, the Black Theatre Network's 2016 Winona Lee Fletcher Award, three Chicago Joseph Jefferson Awards and nine AUDELCO Awards. His body of work includes Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theatre, Feature Films, Television, Distinguished Visiting Professorships and Motivational Speaking. A multiple Tony Award nominee, Mr. De Shields is best known for his show stopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: Impressionism (costarring with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen); the world premiere of Mark Medoff’s Prymate (Drama Desk nomination); The Full Monty, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations, in addition to both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards; Play On! (Tony nomination); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Drama Desk nomination) and The Wiz (title role).

Tony, Emmy and SAG-AFTRA Award winning actress, LACHANZE, stepped onto stage 27 Broadway seasons ago, emerging as one of the brightest stars and voices to hit Broadway. She made audiences sit up and take notice giving the original production of Once On This Island its beating heart, creating the role of lovelorn peasant girl Ti Moune. Armed with her incomparable gift for dramatic storytelling and soaring vocal prowess, she won a Tony Award for giving a voice to Celie, the unlikely heroine of Alice Walker's The Color Purple, in the musical's original staging. Shortly after, she nabbed an Emmy Award for her riveting performance in PBS’s Handel’s Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise and a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture in award winning film The Help.

The League of Professional Theatre Women (a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization) has been championing women and leading the gender parity conversation in the professional theatre for over 35 years. Since its founding, the LPTW’s membership has grown to 500+ theatre artists and practitioners of all backgrounds, across multiple disciplines, working in the commercial and non-profit sectors. To increase visibility of and opportunities for women in the field, the LPTW spearheads events, public programming, advocacy initiatives, media, and publications that celebrate industry luminaries, preserve the legacy of historic visionaries, raise awareness of the importance of nurturing women’s voices, and shine a spotlight on the imperative of striving for gender parity and fostering a diversity of expression, both in the theatre world and the world at large. To find out more about how you can support its endeavors, please visit www.theatrewomen.org.

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