The Ensemble Studio Theatre will honor two of its most distinguished members, the acclaimed actress Lois Smith and two-time Board chair G.H. "Denny" Denniston, Jr with its 2012 Distinguished Member Award at a "Fun-Raiser" benefit celebration Monday evening, May 14, at 6:45pm at SIR Stage 37, 508 West 37th Street. Tickets are $350. Jill Jaffe is the event designer and producer and Jason Bruffy is director and producer. Additional ticket, table and ad packages are available. For information contact Benefit Coordinator Aubrie Fennecken at (212) 247-4982 x.106
The evening begins with a cocktail reception at 6:45 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:45 p.m. At 8:45 p.m. EST will celebrate its honorees during the "Lois and Denny Hour." Inspired by "The Johnny Carson Show," the show will be hosted by Peter Maloney, with his sidekick Tyrone (the devil sock puppet from Hand to God) played by Steve Boyer, the EST-V "house band" composed of EST member musicians, with special guests in attendance including Kathryn Erbe (Law and Order), Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), Jerry Zaks, Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes) Jeremy Davidson (Army Wives), John Guare, the cast of Amy Herzog's After the Revolution, Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities), David Rasche, Carolyn Cantor and others (list in formation/subject to change). Sponsors include Stage Entertainment USA, Sachs Morgan Studio, Grey New York and Bob and Jill Jaffe.
"All of us at EST are proud to be honoring two of our most illustrious members, Lois and Denny, as distinguished members of our company," said William Carden, Artistic Director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. "In very different ways they each have made an extraordinary contribution to EST and to theatre in this country. Lois is an actress who never ceases to astonish us with her work, her generosity and her dedication to theatre. In a less public way for thirty years Denny has served on the Board of EST and as Board Chair for much of that time. I don't think the theatre would have survived without his patient leadership and counsel. He is a sterling example of the impact an individual with the fire in his belly to do it can have on an organization like ours. "
Lois Smith hails from Topeka, Kansas. Her first role on Broadway was as Melvyn Douglas's teenage daughter in Time Out for Ginger which she followed with The Young And Beautiful, Blues For Mr. Charlie, and the original production of Orpheus Descending. She was nominated for a Tony for her performances in The Grapes Of Wrath directed by Frank Galati and Buried Childdirected by Gary Sinise. A longtime member of the EST, she has played in many one-act play marathons, particularly in plays by Romulus Linney, and The Man Who Climbed The Pecan Trees by Horton Foote. In 2005 – 2006, Ms. Smith played Carrie Watts in Horton Foote's The Trip To Bountiful at Signature Theatre, for which she received five awards: an Obie, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and the Kingsley-Evans Award. Most recently she was seen in Playwrights Horizons production of After the Revolution by Amy Herzog and Tony Kushner's The Illusion at Signature Theatre.
Former Eagle Scout Denny Denniston grew up in Mobile, Alabama. He moved to New York City for a 40 year career in banking where he was a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank, an Executive Vice President at NationAl Westminster Bank USA, a Senior Vice President at the Bank of New York and General Manager in charge of the New York Branch of the United Bank for Africa. In 1981 he joined the board of The Ensemble Studio Theatre and six months later became its chairman for the next ten years. While he continued on the Board and to provide financial counsel, he became treasurer in 2004 and was again elected chairman in 2007, serving through this year.
The Ensemble Studio Theatre was founded on the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. Through its unique collaborative process it develops and produces original, provocative and authentic new plays that engage and challenge its audience and audiences across the country. The Ensemble Studio Theatre's award-winning membership comprises 562 artists and ranges from distinguished, recognizable playwrights (Annie Baker, Jon Robin Baitz), performers (Lois Smith, David Rasche, William Jackson Harper) and directors (Pamela Berlin, José Zayas) to new talent. In 2009, EST was ranked #1 in NYC and #2 nationally by playwrights of note for its dedication to producing new plays (Theatre Development Fund's study Outrageous Fortune by Todd London and Ben Pesner). The company has presented over 6,500 plays since its founding in 1968.