GIMME A BREAK 2016
March 7, 2016
The Times Center 242 W. 41st St
Honoring Michael John LaChiusa and TheaterMania & Gretchen Shugart
Click here to see photos from the party and performances!
Performances by Kate Baldwin, John Cariani, Marc Kudisch, Julia Murney, Mary Testa, and more!
Awards presented by Graciela Daniele and Jack Cummings III
Michael John LaChiusa is an American musical theatre and opera composer, lyricist, and librettist. He is a five-time Tony Award nominee for his score and book for both Marie Christine and The Wild Party and his libretto for Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Off-Broadway productions include Hello Again, See What I Wanna See, The Petrified Prince, Little Fish, Bernarda Alba, Queen of the Mist, Giant, First Lady Suite and First Daughter Suite. Transport Group produced the first New York revivals of LaChiusa’s Hello Again (Off Broadway Alliance Award Winner, Drama League Award Nominee) and First Lady Suite (Drama Desk Award Nominee) and commissioned 2011’s Queen of the Mist starring Mary Testa for which LaChiusa received The Dramatists Guild's Frederick Loewe Award for Dramatic Composition and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Off-Broadway Musical, as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, and Off Broadway Alliance Award nominations. He has also written numerous compositions for opera, film and television. LaChiusa is an adjunct professor at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He is currently working with Sybille Pearson on the world premiere musical Rain, to open at the Old Globe in San Diego in March. A film version of Hello Again starring Audra McDonald and Cheyenne Jackson is currently in development.
Gretchen Shugart is CEO of TheaterMania.com, Inc., a media and technology company serving the performing arts industry through TheaterMania.com, OvationTix, and UK-based WhatsOnStage.com. TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage together have over 1.2 million email subscribers, and approximately 1.7 million monthly site visitors. OvationTix, the company’s proprietary ticketing, fundraising and CRM system is used by over 500 producing organizations across the U.S. Prior to her position at TheaterMania, Gretchen was President of eMediaCapital LLC, a boutique investment bank specializing in the media industry, and held corporate finance positions at several large financial institutions, nearly all named JP Morgan Chase today. Gretchen graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She is President of the Board of Directors of TheatreForward, a non-profit dedicated to advancing American theatre, serves as a mentor in Columbia University’s Master’s Program in Technology, and serves on the overseers board of California Institute of the Arts. Gretchen and her husband, Jon Maurer, have two grown children, Stephanie and Alexander.
Each year, Transport Group's annual gala "Gimme a Break!" honors influential members of the theatrical community who have made remarkable contributions to the American theatre. Past honorees that have been presented with the Transporting American Theatre Award include Terrence McNally, Joe Mantello, Sue Frost, Paul Huntley, Liz Smith, Christian Borle, Beth Williams, Barbara Whitman, and more. Performances include Broadway's brighest stars sharing their "big break" moment in story and song.
GIMME A BREAK 2014
Honored Tony Award winning producer Barbara Whitman
Hosted by Julie Halston
Featured performances by Michael Cerveris, Lisa Kron, Sydney Lucas, Heather Mac Rae, Lindsey Mendez, and Alice Ripley
BARBARA WHITMAN made her Broadway debut producing A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sean Combs. She is currently represented on Broadway by Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Tony and Drama Desk Awards, Best Musical Revival) and If/Then starring Idina Menzel, and on tour, Murder for Two. Next spring, she will also be represented by Fun Home. Other Broadway credits include Of Mice and Men, starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd, Hands on a Hardbody, Red (Tony and Drama Desk Awards, Best Play), Next to Normal (Pulitzer Prize), Hamlet starring Jude Law, 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda, Mary Stuart, Legally Blonde - The Musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, andDirty Rotten Scoundrels. In the West End, she produced Piaf, starring Elena Roger. National tours include Next to Normal, Legally Blonde – The Musical, …Spelling Bee, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels andFrost/Nixon. A native New Yorker, Barbara attended NYU's Gallatin School and received an MFA in Theatre Management and Producing from Columbia University. She is a board member of the Tectonic Theater Project, a member of the Leadership Council of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, East Coast Chair of Northwestern University’s School of Communications Advisory Council, and Chair Emeritus of Play Group Theatre, a Westchester based theater for children and teens. She is a member of the Broadway League, as well as Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. Her proudest productions are her two sons, Daniel and Will.
GIMME A BREAK 2013
Honored Tony Award winning producer Beth Williams
Hosted by Julie Halston
Featured performances by Carolee Carmello, Santino Fontana, Jayne Houdyshell, Rachel Bay Jones, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Jessie Mueller
Check out Playbill.com's photo coverage of the night!
BETH WILLIAMS helped launch Key Brand Entertainment in the United States and served for six years as its COO & Head of Production and subsequently CEO of the Theater Division. During her tenure, Key Brand’s Broadway Across America was a producer of more than 40 new Broadway productions including Big Fish, Pippin, Million Dollar Quartet (New York, US Tour, Vegas and London), Hands on a Hardbody, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, Memphis, One Man, Two Guvnors, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever starring Harry Connick, Jr., Promises, Promises starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth and White Christmas, as well as the current CSI exhibit in Las Vegas. Broadway Across America’s presenting division is the foremost presenter of live theatrical entertainment operating in 40 markets across North America. Prior to joining Key Brand, Beth produced Grey Gardens on Broadway in partnership with East of Doheny; was the President of Production for Clear Channel Theatrical where she was a producer of The Producers – The New Mel Brooks Musical, Hairspray, Sweet Smell of Success, Fosse (Broadway and Tour), All Shook Up, Cabaret (Tour), amongst others, and started a successful family division where she produced and toured Nickelodeon’s Rugrats – A Live Adventure, Blue’s Clues Live, the All That Music and More Festival and Dora the Explorer – Live!. Prior to producing, Beth worked on Broadway as a conductor (Les Miserables, Dreamgirls), pianist (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Phantom, Dreamgirls) and company manager (Dreamgirls, Dangerous Games, West Side Story in Japan). She is a member of The Broadway League where she serves on the Labor and Membership Committees and sits on the Board of Governors. She is married to general manager, Allan Williams.
GIMME A BREAK 2012
Honored Tony Award winners Christian Borle, Sue Frost, and Paul Huntley
Hosted by Julie Halston
Featured performances by Jenn Colella, Tyne Daly, Motego Glover, Ann Harada,Elizabeth Stanley, Sally Wilfert, and members of the original cast of Peter and the Starcatcher.
CHRISTIAN BORLE received the 2012 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Black Stache in the Broadway hit Peter and the Starcatcher. He also appeared in both the La Jolla Playhouse and New York Theatre Workshop productions of Peter and the Starcatcher, earning a Lucille Lortel Award as well as Drama Desk and Drama League Award nominations for his performance. He currently stars as composer Tom Levitt in NBC's acclaimed new drama series, Smash. Other Broadway credits include Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde: The Musical (Tony, Drama Desk, and Drama League Award nominations), Spamalot(Clarence Derwent Award, Drama Desk Award nomination), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Armour, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Footloose. Off-Broadway credits include Angels in America (Signature Theatre Company), On America (Signature Theatre Company), On the Town (Encores!) and Elegies: A Song Cycle (Lincoln Center). Regional credits include Just So(North Shore Music Theatre), The Three Musketeers (American Musical Theatre of San Jose),West Side Story (national tour), and The Who's Tommy (Offenbach, Germany). Television and film credits include Legally Blonde: The Musical, Johnny and the Sprites, Law & Order, Ghost Stories, and The Bounty Hunter
SUE FROST is a Tony Award-winning producer, most recently for Memphis which received four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Ms. Frost was the Associate Producer at Goodspeed Musicals for 20 years where she produced more than 50 new musicals at both the Goodspeed Opera House and the Norma Terris Theatre, many of which have gone on to Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theatres around the country. Prior to Goodspeed she worked as a company manager on several Broadway shows and tours including A Chorus Line, Dancin' and The Rink. Ms. Frost was recognized by the Association of Authors' Representatives for her dedication to new writers of new musicals, and was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Spirit of Broadway Theatre. A graduate of Smith College, Ms. Frost is Past President of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, currently serves as a Tony nominator, and is a founding partner of Junkyard Dog Productions, a theatrical producing organization dedicated to the development and production of new musical theatre. Since its inception in 2006, Junkyard Dog has produced Memphis, Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, Party Come Here, and Vanities.
PAUL HUNTLEY is the recipient of a Special Tony Award for Excellence in the Theatre as well as a Special Drama Desk Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mr. Huntley has worked on hundreds of Broadway projects since arriving in the U.S. in 1973 including Nice Work if You Can Get It, Other Desert Cities, Master Class, War Horse, Anything Goes, All My Sons, Sweeney Todd, Cats, Amadeus, Kiss Me Kate, The Producers, and Hairspray. For Transport Group, Mr. Huntley has designed Queen of the Mist, All the Way Home, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Being Audrey, and Marcy in the Galaxy. He has also worked with some of the most talented leading ladies of the American cinema including Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Mae West, Glenn Close, Angela Lansbury, and Jessica Lange. Movies include Christopher Plummer in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Last Station, and Willem Dafoe in Cirque du Freak. Mr. Huntley also donates his time and talents to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy by providing custom wigs that bolster patients’ health and spirits.
GIMME A BREAK 2011
Honored playwright Douglas Carter Beane and composer/lyricist Lewis Flinn
Hosted by Julie Halston
Featuring performances by Kerry Butler, Jackie Hoffman, Andrew Rannells, Andrew Samonsky, Alexandra Silber, and Mary Testa
DOUGLAS CARTER BEANE wrote the book for Lysistrata Jones, which received critical acclaim for its New York debut with Transport Group and will open on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater on December 14, 2011. Plays: The Little Dog Laughed (TONY and Olivier Nominations for Best Play, GLAAD Media Award), Mr & Mrs Fitch, As Bees in Honey Drown (Outer Critics Circle Gassner Award), Music From a Sparkling Planet, The Country Club, Advice From a Caterpillar, The Cartells, and the upcoming The Nance. Musicals: Xanadu (Outer Critics, HX, Drama Desk award for Best Book, Tony nomination for Best Book), Sister Act (Tony nomination for Best Book), The Big Time, The Bandwagon, and a soon-to-be-announced Rodgers and Hammerstein project. Revues: Mondo Drama and White Lies. Screenplays: Advice From a Caterpillar (Aspen Comedy Festival Best Feature); To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. As Artistic Director of Drama Dept., he produced more than 40 productions including revivals of As Thousands Cheer, June Moon and The Torchbearers, and world premieres by Paul Rudnick, David Sedaris and Wendy Wasserstein. He resides in NYC with his partner, Lewis Flinn, and their children Cooper and Gabrielle.
LEWIS FLINN wrote the music and lyrics for Lysistrata Jones. Additional musical projects include The Divine Sister with Charles Busch, On Girl with Steven Sater, Like Love with Barry Kaplan (NYMF 2007), The Winner with Joe Sutton (the Lyric Stage, Dallas 2007), and Down There with Brian Crawley. He has also composed scores and songs for over 50 productions, including Douglas Carter Beane's Broadway play The Little Dog Laughed and Charles Busch’s Off-Broadway Die Mommie Die and The Third Story (MCC, La Jolla). Other theaters include Second Stage Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, MCC, South Coast Rep, Playwright's Horizons, Drama Dept., Lincoln Center Theatre, The Vineyard Theater, Geffen Playhouse (LA), Hartford Stage, Cleveland Play House, Old Glode, Primary Stages, adobe theatre co, and The Acting Company. In addition, he has been a guest artist at Cornell, Dartmouth, and Princeton University. In the world of TV and film, he recently wrote the themes and music for several primetime shows and numerous national commercials. A longtime collaborator with fashion designer Zang Toi, he has composed and performed runway music for over 14 collections. He was lead singer and songwriter for the 90's jazz/rock band Acoustic Blue.
GIMME A BREAK 2010
Honored playwright A.R. Gurney & columnist Liz Smith
Hosted by Julie Halston
Featuring performances by Kate Baldwin, Charles Busch, Bobby Steggert, and Emily Skinner
A. R. Gurney is one of the most prolific and most produced playwrights in America. His Broadway and Off-Broadway plays include Scenes from American Life, The Dining Room, The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, Sylvia, Ancestral Voices, Far East, Big Bill, Buffalo Gal, Indian Blood and The Grand Manner. He is also the author of three published novels and several television scripts. Gurney taught literature at M.I.T. for 25 years before devoting himself full time to the theatre. He is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Liz Smith is the legendary New York gossip columnist, most well known for her by-line column in the New York Daily News. Liz is a longtime supporter and advocate of the theatre, and often features productions and theatre artists in her column. She has hosted the Theater Hall of Fame awards and continues to write about and promote the theatre on wowOwow.com, the website she founded for women to talk culture, politics and gossip. Before her success as a columnist, she was a proofreader for Newsweek, a press agent on Broadway, and a producer for Mike Wallace on CBS radio. She appeared on-camera for NBC's Live at Five for 11 years, earning her an Emmy Award in 1985. In September 2000, her memoir, Natural Blonde, was published by Hyperion Press and became a New York Times Bestseller. Liz's daily column can now be read on wowOwow.com, in Daily Variety and in syndication.
GIMME A BREAK 2009
honored Terrence McNally and Joe Mantello
PERFORMANCES BY Chita Rivera, Rosie Perez, Martha Plimpton, Marian Seldes,Stephanie J. Block, Brooks Ashmanskas.
HOSTED BY Hunter Bell & Jeff Bowen [title of show]
To read Playbill's article on the 2009 Gala, click here.
GIMME A BREAK 2008
honored Betty Jacobs and John Doyle
PERFORMANCES BY Celia Keenan-Bolger, Judy Kuhn, Donna McKechnie, Barbara Walsh, and the original Broadway cast of [title of show].
GIMME A BREAK 2007
Performances by Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Danny Burstein, Mario Cantone, Jerry Dixon,Anne Meara, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anne L. Nathan, David Pittu, Seth Rudetsky, andDaphne Rubin Vega.
Past GIMME A BREAK highlights:
- Tommy Tune discussed meeting The Manhattan Rhythm Kings on the subway and then he (and they) did an amazing routine to a Gershwin medley from their act.
- Liz Callaway spoke about working on Baby and then sang “The Story Goes On.”
- Debra Monk described the strange journey of Pump Boys and Dinettes and then sang the song she wrote for the show.
- Boyd Gaines sang “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and spoke about how it was the song he sang for his first musical audition in college for She Loves Me —he ended up playing the busboy.
- Mary Beth Peil talked about how she was the last woman to play Anna with Yul Brynner in The King and I and then she sang “Hello Young Lovers.”
- Victoria Clark described missing her father’s funeral while in A Grand Night For Singing and what it was like going onstage and singing “What’s the Use of Wondering” that night.
- Beth Fowler talked about being in the original A Little Night Music and what it was like when Stephen Sondheim finally finished “Send in the Clowns” and came onstage and played for it the cast—then Beth sang it herself for us.