NEW YORK — At New Federal Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Gala Sunday January 17, special guests will include Debbie Allen, Trazana Beverly, Mya Carter, Patrice Johnson Cevannes, Debbi Blackwell Cook, D.K. Dyson, Joseph Edwards, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Ted Lange, Pauletta Washington, Kevin Maynor, S. Epatha Merskerson, Barbara Montgomery, Ademola Olugebefola, Phylicia Rashad, Glynn Turman and Richard Wesley. The event, to be held virtually from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, will celebrate the esteemed organization, founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970, for its 50 years of theatrical excellence.
To-date, New Federal Theatre (NFT) has produced over 450 mainstage plays, an astonishing and influential record of achievement, sending multiple plays to Broadway and launching numerous minority and women playwrights and actors into prominent careers. Its alumni are an honor roll of artists of color from the 1970s through today.
This virtual gala will be accessible from the theater’s website, http://www.newfederaltheatre.com.
Co-hosts of the event will be Ted Lange, DeWanda Wise and Alano Miller. Honorees will include Cliff Frazier, Ron Himes, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ed Pitt, Phylicia Rashad, Oz Scott, Beth Turner, Glynn Turman and Douglas Turner Ward.
The celebration is written by Bill Harris and directed by Dean Irby. Honorary Committee for the event includes Debbie Allen, Harry Belafonte, Vin Diesel, Toni Fay, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson, La Tanya Richardson Jackson, Sidney Poitier, Issa Rae, Phylicia Rashad, Lamman Rucker, Glynn Turman, Mfundi Vundla and Lynn Whitfield. Major sponsor of the event is All Stars Project, Inc.
New Federal Theatre has had national prominence since “Black Girl” by J.e. Franklin, won a Drama Desk Award (1971) and “The Taking of Miss Janie” by Ed Bullins (1975) moved from NFT to Lincoln Center and won the Drama Critics Circle Award. Among its most salient successes is “For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange, which NFT produced for its New York debut and subsequently and co-produced for Broadway with the late Joseph Papp in 1976. It was the second play by a black woman to reach Broadway, preceded by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun in 1959.
Among the performers who have benefited from early successes on NFT’s stage are the late Chadwick Boseman, Debbie Allen, Morgan Freeman, Phylicia Rashad, Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Issa Rae, and many more.
For more info, including an expanded list of the company’s distinguished alumni, see: http://www.jsnyc.com/season/about_NFT.html.
The gala will be streamed live January 17 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Admission is free and donations will be gratefully accepted. To reserve, go to https://newfederaltheatre.com or send an email to email@example.com. Suggested donations are $50 to $25,000 and can be made through Paypal at http://www.newfederaltheatre.org or by mailing a check to New Federal Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.