Broadway producers Jerry Frankel and Jeffrey Richards will be honored by the Ensemble Studio Theatre at its 45th Anniversary Gala, being held at SIR Stage 37 (508 W. 37th Street) on May 20. The evening will begin with a 6:30pm cocktail reception, followed by a live show at 8.
Numerous Broadway performers and creatives are scheduled to appear in the gala event, which will be hosted by director Jerry Zaks. Candice Bergen, Chris Noth, Norm Lewis, Laura Osnes (currently enchanting Broadway audiences in Cinderella), Jekyll & Hyde composer Frank Wildhorn, playwright David Mamet, songwriter Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), Elizabeth Ashley, and director/choregrapher Kathleen Marshall will be among the participants. Cast members from the 2009 production of the musical Hair will also perform.
“All of us at EST are proud to be honoring two of Broadway’s most illustrious producers, who have a record of producing many new plays and musicals that originated in not-for-profit theatres like ours,” stated Ensemble Studio Theatre artistic director William Carden. “Proceeds support EST’s own productions of new plays, which have increased markedly in the past five years with tremendous growth in box office revenue, greater recognition for EST artists, and a higher profile for our theatre.”
A new slate of stars step up to take the place of departing cast members in the Broadway production of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man tonight. Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting) is replacing Candice Bergen as a politician’s long-suffering wife, John Stamos (Full House) is succeeding Eric McCormack as a slick rival politician, and Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) is taking over Kerry Butler’s role as his wife.
Original cast members James Earl Jones (giving The Best Man‘s most enjoyable performance as a former President of the United States), John Larroquette, Jefferson Mays, and Angela Lansbury are still with the production, though Lansbury is scheduled to depart on July 24 when Elizabeth Ashley (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) will take over her role.
Though The Best Man didn’t win any Tony Awards last month–it was nominated for Best Revival of a Play and James Earl Jones received a Best Actor nod–the production has done quite well, nearly selling out during its first weeks and going on to enjoy an average of 80% capacity since then. Written in 1960, its story of presidential politics still feels pretty timely during this election year. The play was originally scheduled for a limited run ending on July 8, but extended to September 9 due to popular demand (which was undoubtedly excited by its starry cast).