La MaMa concluded its 50th anniversary season with a successful benefit evening highlighted by entertainment and tributes-the La MaMa 50 Big Bash-on Sunday, June 24 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU in Manhattan.
The evening was emceed by the inimitable Tony nominee and longtime La MaMa artist André DeShields, who joined other performers, including Gavin Creel, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Adrian Bailey, Everett Quinton, Lady J and Culture Hub, in entertaining the audience of 600-plus with music and dance that celebrated La MaMa's first 50 years, including an excerpt from its recent hit production of Scott Wittman's JUKEBOX JACKIE featuring Cole Escola and Bridget Everett. The evening was directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, who appeared as an actor at La MaMa during the early days of his career. Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, also La MaMa artists, served as the anniversary celebrations' co-chairs.
See below for pictures of the BIG BASH's speakers and performers!
Mia Yoo, La MaMa's Artistic Director, paid tribute to Co-CEO's of The Shubert Organization, Philip J. Smith and Robert E. Wankel, in recognition of the Shubert Foundation's 50-year support of La MaMa and the theatre community-at-large. The Shuberts' support of La MaMa dates back to the now internationally renowned theatre's very beginning when founded by the late Ellen Stewart in 1961. Mr. Smith and Mr. Wankel were presented with the Silver Bell Award at the event.
The evening opened with a performance from the "La MaMa Cantata," an oratorio written by Elizabeth Swados about the life and times of Ellen Stewart and La MaMa, which had its debut at the Ellen Stewart Theatre in November as part of the 50th season.
The entertainment portion of the evening concluded with congratulatory and thank you remarks by Frank Carucci, President of the La MaMa Board of Directors. A reception in the Rosenthal Pavilion at Skirball Center followed the performance.
La MaMa is a remarkable arts institution with a world-wide reputation for producing cutting-edge work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend, Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,000 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.
La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris, -and others whose names you haven't heard of yet - began their careers at La MaMa. International Artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre.La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for "Excellence in the Theatre."
La MaMa begins its 51st season this fall with a slate of productions to be announced. For more information about La MaMa, visit www.lamama.org.