The Acting Company Announces Holiday Benefit with Tony Award Winner John Rando and Emmy Nominated Rainn Wilson
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 09:27 am EST 12/01/20


RAINN’S FIRST (And Maybe Only) Holiday Special




(NEW YORK, NY) – The Acting Company (Ian Belknap, Artistic Director; Margot Harley, Founder) today announces they will celebrate the holiday season with a virtual benefit performance of songs, readings, holiday traditions, and hijinks that will feature alumni and friends of the company. Styled as a variety show and hosted by company alum, Rainn Wilson and directed by John Rando, the event will feature performances from actors who have performed with The Acting Company during its storied 48-year history. The virtual fundraiser will stream live on December 17th at 8pm, EST and is free for all to enjoy. Donations to this benefit are highly encouraged.

This fundraiser reunites Rainn Wilson and director John Rando, whose careers both began on tour with The Acting Company in 1990. From 2005-2013 Wilson played the icon Dwight Schrute on the NBC sitcom The Office, which earned him three consecutive Emmy Award nominations. Rando, who won the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for Urinetown, has a new production of Back to the Future scheduled to open in London’s West End in 2021. Wilson and Rando’s shared sense of humor and zany imaginations will breathe new life into favorite holiday memories drawn from children’s stories, holiday poems, and music, providing laughter for the whole family this holiday season.

Joining Wilson will be alumni and friends of The Acting Company including: Oscar and three-time Tony Award winner, Kevin Kline; Harriet Harris (Tony Award, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Phantom Thread); Lorraine Toussaint (The Glorias, Orange is the New Black); Jesse L. Martin (Rent and Law and Order); Sara Mearns (principal with New York City Ballet), Lisa Banes (The Niceties, Gone Girl); Steven Skybell (Lortel Award, Fiddler on the Roof); Tatiana Wechsler(X: or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation) and others.

The event is free for all to enjoy. Donations to this benefit are highly encouraged.
Register for this event online at www.theactingcompany.org or by calling (212) 258-3111.

A limited amount of premium tickets are available for purchase which offer private virtual viewing options along with catering delivered to individuals’ homes. For information on these packages, please email:cparrinello@theactingcompany.org The benefit will also include a raffle, live auction, and a silent auction which opens on November 30th, and will accept bids from both benefit guests and non-attendees.

All proceeds will benefit a 2021-2022 national tour of Twelfth Night directed by Kent Gash and The Three Musketeers directed by Carl Cofield.

Ian Belknap is the Artistic Director of company. Margot Harley, the Founder. Earl D. Weiner is Chairman of The Acting Company’s board of directors.

About the Host
Rainn Wilson is best known for playing the role of Dwight Schrute on NBC's The Office. Additional film and television credits include: Galaxy Quest, Almost Famous, The Rocker, Super, Six Feet Under, Juno, Backstrom, Star Trek Discovery, Thom Pain , The Meg, Mom, Don't Tell a Soul, and Utopia. He will also be appearing in the forthcoming series The Power. Wilson co-founded SoulPancake, a digital media company, and the Lide Foundation, an educational initiative in rural Haiti that empowers at-risk women and girls through the arts. Wilson began his career with The Acting Company.

About the Director
John Rando won the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for Urinetown. Rando began his career as the Staff Director for The Acting Company. In addition, he directed The Comedy of Errors (the Musical) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for The Acting Company. Broadway credits include: On The Town (Tony Nomination), Getting the Band Back Together, The Wedding Singer, Dance of the Vampires, The Dinner Party, and A Thousand Clowns. Rando has worked extensively for City Center Encores, off-Broadway, and at resident theaters across the country.

About the Performers

LISA BANESbegan her career with The Acting Company. Broadway credits include: Present Laughter, Accent on Youth, High Society, Arcadia and Rumors. Banes has worked off-Broadway and at many leading regional theaters. Her film credits include: Gone Girl, Pumpkin, Dragonfly, Cocktail, The Hotel New Hampshire. Television credits include: Royal Paines, Son on the Beach, and The King of Queens. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

JOSHUA BERGASSE won the Emmy Award for his choreography on NBC’s musical drama, SMASH. He also choreographed multiple segments on So You Think You Can Dance and PBS’ Sinatra: A Voice for a Century. On Broadway, he choreographed the revival of On The Town , for which he received an Astaire Award and was nominated for TONY, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Awards. Most recently, Joshua choreographed the Broadway debut of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

HARRIET HARRISwon the Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie and is well remembered for playing Bebe Glazer on Frasier. She began her career with The Acting Company. Select Broadway credits include: It Shoulda Been You, Cinderella, Present Laughter, Cry-Baby, and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Her film credits include: Phantom Thread, Nurse Betty, and Adams Family Values. Her television Credits include: Ratched, and Desperate Housewives. Harris is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

KEVIN KLINEhas won an Oscar and three Tony Awards, and is a 2003 inductee to the Theater Hall of Fame. He began his career with The Acting Company. Broadway credits include: Present Laughter, Cyrano de Bergerac, Henry IV, Ivanov,Arms and the Man, The Pirates of Penzance, Loose Ends, The Three Sisters, among others. Kline has performed extensively with The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater. Select film credits include:Sophie’s Choice, A Fish Called Wanda, The Big Chill, Dave, In & Out, Wild Wild West, and De-Lovely. Kline is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

JESSE L. MARTINstarred as Tom Collins in the original cast of Rent and starred on Law and Order for nine years. He began his career with The Acting Company. Theatre credits include: The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, The Government Inspector, Two Gentleman of Verona, The Threepenny Opera among many others. Martin’s film credits: Rent, Puncture, Peter and Vandy, Joyful Noise, among others. Martin’s television credits include: Ally McBeal,Smash, The Philanthropist, and The Flash.He graduated from New York University.

SARA MEARNS is one of today’s most internationally celebrated dancers in classical ballet. As a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Mearns has performed featured roles in beloved ballets such as Symphony in C, Jewels (Emeralds and Diamonds), Serenade, Mozartiana, and Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Her signature role, for which she has received repeated critical acclaim, is the well-known swan queen in Swan Lake.

STEVEN SKYBELL won the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for Fiddler on the Roof. His Broadway acting credits include: Wicked, The Full Monty, Pal Joey, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Café Crown, and Ah, Wilderness. Extensive off-Broadway: Antigone in New York (Obie Award), The Lesson, The Controversy, and What Didn’t Happen Here. Skybell has played in many Shakespeare plays at the Public Theater, The Shakespeare Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Theatre for a New Audience; and he was one of two Americans chosen for the inaugural season of Shakespeare’s Globe/London. Skybell holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

MATTHEW BRADFORD SULLIVANcareer began with The Acting Company and he has appeared in many productions including: The School for Scandal (Broadway); Macbeth, The Guilded Age, Two Gentleman of Verona, Five by Tennessee, Much Ado About Nothing. Off-Broadway and regional credits: Old Acquaintances, The Skin of Our Teeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, All’s Well That Ends Wells. Matt has worked at numerous regional theaters: Berkshire Theatre Group, Pittsburg Public, Shakespeare Theatre DC, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Primary Stages, among many others. Sullivan graduated from The Juilliard School.

LORRAINE TOUSSAINT was born in Trinidad and came to The United States when she was 10. Toussaint graduated from the Manhattan’s School of the Preforming Arts and The Juilliard School. Select theatre credits include: Playboy of the West Indies, The Talented Tenth, Measure for Measure, and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Toussaint’s film credits include: The Glorias, Concrete Cowboys, Love Beats Rhymes, Selma, and The Soloist. Television credits include: The Village, Orange is the New Black, Rosewood, Forever, Saving Grace, Friday Night Lights, Any Day Now, among many others.

TATIANA WECHSLER began her career with The Acting Company and has performed at theaters including: the Paper Mill Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Theatre at St. Clement’s, Two River Theatre, The O’Neill Theater Center, Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Yankee Stadium, Birdland, Beacon Theatre, Madison Square Garden, Town Hall, Lincoln Center, Delacorte Theater, and Radio City Music Hall. She was the first woman to play Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Oregon Shakespeare Festival).

Founded in 1972 by legendary producer/director/actor John Houseman and previous Producing Director Margot Harley with members of the first graduating class of Juilliard's Drama Division, The Acting Company has performed 144 productions for over 4 million people in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. The Company has given two generations of actors the opportunity to master their craft in a repertory of classic and news plays. Alumni include: Kevin Kline, Rainn Wilson, Patti LuPone, Jesse L. Martin, Frances Conroy, Jeffrey Wright, Harriet Harris, Lisa Banes, Hamish Linklater, Keith David, Roslyn Ruff, Andy Grotelueschen, Lorraine Toussaint, and Kelley Curran, Among over a dozen new plays and adaptations commissioned by The Acting Company are works by Lynn Nottage, Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, John Guare, Rebecca Gilman, Maria Irene Fornes, Ntozake Shange, Marcus Gardley, David Mamet, and Jeffrey Hatcher. The Company’s education programs — Learning Through Theater Artistic Residencies, Student Matinees, Workshops, Master Classes, Primary Shakespeare and Shakespeare for Teachers — reach students in disadvantaged schools where achievement levels are often considerably below average. These programs have fostered a renewed interest in learning, improved grades, and expanded communication and social skills. The Acting Company has been honored with numerous awards, including: the Obie, Audelco, Los Angeles Critics Circle Award and a special Tony Honor for Excellence in Theater.
Link https://www.theactingcompany.org

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