Every day is opening night.

The Legendary James Earl Jones Named 2015 Honoree for the Drama League’s 31st Annual Gala 2/2/15


Rick Miramontez / Philip Carrubba
rick@oandmco.com / philip@oandmco.com





MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2014 AT 7:00 P.M.


New York, NY (October 8, 2014) – The Drama League (Executive Director Gabriel Shanks; Artistic Director Roger T. Danforth) announced today they will honor the legendary Emmy®, Grammy®, Oscar® and Tony® Award (EGOT) winner James Earl Jones at the 31st Annual Musical Celebration of Broadway, to be held on Monday evening, February 2, 2015 at the famed Pierre Hotel (2 East 61st Street).  The black-tie gala, which features dozens of stars from Hollywood and Broadway in a one-night-only musical tribute inspired by Mr. Jones' career in theater, film and television, supports The Drama League’s educational initiatives for promising young artists.  Tickets are available by calling (212) 244-9494.

As he is proving eight times a week at the Longacre Theatre in You Can’t Take It With You, James Earl Jones is a national treasure,” said Executive Director Gabriel Shanks.  “The Drama League is honored to celebrate his extraordinary life and career with him on February 2nd, and to bring together his many co-stars, friends, admirers and collaborators from the last six decades, all in one very spectacular night.”

The Musical Celebration of Broadway Honoring James Earl Jones will welcome 500 of New York City’s most influential arts supporters, celebrities, and luminaries for a black-tie evening of cocktails, dinner, and the acclaimed, unforgettable musical revue that is the signature of this event. Featuring dozens of stars from film, television and theatre, the Musical Celebration of Broadway will highlight shows from Mr. Jones' illustrious theater triumphs, including You Can’t Take it With You, Fences, Master Harold…and the Boys, The Great White Hope, Othello, Driving Miss Daisy, Field Of Dreams, Gabriel’s Fire, The Lion King, and the Star Wars trilogy, among others.  The Musical Celebration of Broadway Honoring James Earl Jones will be produced by Roger T. Danforth and Trevor Tamashiro.

Mr. Jones joins a noted roster of past Drama League Honorees, including Neal Patrick Harris, Liza Minnelli, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chita Rivera, Rosie O’Donnell and Terrence McNally, all exceptional artists whose talent and passion have served as a benchmark for others.

The Musical Celebration of Broadway Honoring James Earl Jones will raise funds to support the educational training programs of The Drama League Directors Project.  The award-winning initiative, which began in 1982 and whose alumni now number over 300, has been instrumental in launching the careers of Tony® Award winners Diane Paulus (Finding Neverland), Pam MacKinnon (A Delicate Balance), Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), John Rando (On The Town), and award-winning directors Christopher Ashley, Mark Brokaw, Rachel Chavkin, and Alex Timbers, to name a few.

‘Drama League Directors’ are directing on Broadway, Off-Broadway, at regional theaters across the country, and in film and television. They are the artistic directors and associates at 58 regional theaters, including James Bundy (Dean, Yale School of Drama), Hal Brooks (Pearl Theatre), Laura Kepley (Cleveland Play House), Jonathan Silverstein (Keen Company), Michael John Garces (Cornerstone Theatre Company), Ed Iskandar (Exit Pursued By A Bear), Ms. Paulus (American Repertory Theatre), Mr. Ashley (La Jolla Playhouse), Ms. Chavkin (The TEAM), and more.  Others hold prominent positions throughout the industry as producers, writers, agents and administrators, and many are educating the next generation of directors at some of our finest professional training programs.

Their directing work has been honored Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Obie, Peabody, Drama Desk, GLAAD, Drama League, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics, Evening Standard, Lucille Lortel, Bessie, Princess Grace, Garland, Drama-Logue, Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Elliot Norton, and Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They have in many ways shaped the future of the American theater, with the praise of critics and audiences alike.


For questions, more information, or to reserve tickets, please call (212) 244-9494 ext. 101 or e-mail theleague@dramaleague.org.





James Earl Jones, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner whose singular voice is recognized around the world, is known by people of all ages and walks of life, from Star Wars fans who know him as the voice of Darth Vader to children who know him as Mufasa from Disney’s The Lion King.

Renowned Broadway producer Joseph Papp gave Jones one of his first major breakthroughs, casting him in Shakespeare’s Henry V.  It began his long affiliation with the New York Shakespeare Festival, eventually counting the title roles of Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear among his many distinguished performances for the company.

Based on his success in the theater, he was cast in small television roles. In the 1960s, Jones was one of the first African-American actors to appear regularly in daytime soap operas (playing a doctor in both The Guiding Light and As the World Turns), and he made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

In 1969, Jones won a Tony Award for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit, The Great White Hope (which also garnered him an Oscar nomination for the 1970 film adaptation). He won a second Tony Award in 1987 for August Wilson's Fences, in which he played a former baseball player who finds it difficult to communicate with his son.

Although he was cast in numerous leading roles in films in the 1970s, including The Man (1972), Claudine (1974), The River Niger (1975) and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976), Jones continued to make his biggest impressions on stage. In addition to his celebrated Shakespearian work, he began a long-standing collaboration with South African playwright Athol Fugard, acting in The Blood Knot, Boseman and Lena, and the critically acclaimed Master Harold…and the Boys, among others.

His film performances of the 1980s included his work as the oppressed coal miner in John Sayles' Matewan (1987) and as the embittered writer in Field of Dreams (1989), while the '90s found him in the thick of the Tom Clancy blockbuster trilogy–The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger–as well as in the film version of the Alan Paton classic Cry, the Beloved Country (1995).

His career also includes a wide range of television work. He played Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generation (1979), Junius Johnson (an Emmy-winning performance) in Heat Wave, the 1990 TNT drama about the 1965 riots in Watts, and a great number of guest roles in series ranging from The Defenders and Dr. Kildare to more recently, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and House.  He also earned an Emmy as Gabriel Bird, a disgraced cop turned private investigator, in the 1990-92 series Gabriel's Fire.

In addition to the many awards he has received as an actor–two Tonys, three Emmys, a Golden Globe, two Cable ACEs, two OBIEs, five Drama Desks, and a Grammy–Jones has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002.  He also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Honorary Oscar in recognition of his long and distinguished career in 2011.  He received The Drama League’s 1987 Distinguished Performance Award for his work in Fences.

In the spring of 2005, James Earl Jones starred on Broadway a critically acclaimed revival of On Golden Pond for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.  In 2006, he also starred as Supreme Court Justice  Thurgood Marshall in the production of Thurgood at the Westport County Playhouse and in spring of 2008 portrayed “Big Daddy” in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with Terrance Howard, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad, followed by a second run of Cat on Hot Tin Roof on stage in London with Adrian Lester, Sanaa Lathan, and again Phylicia Rashad. The production won an Olivier Award for “Best Revival” and Mr. Jones was nominated for an Olivier in the Best Actor category.  In 2011, Mr. Jones starred in the Broadway and London productions of Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines and, in 2012, starred in the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, for which he received another Tony nomination.  In 2013 Mr. Jones enjoyed a six-month tour of Driving Miss Daisy in Australia starring Angela Lansbury and Boyd Gaines.  He is currently starring in You Can’t Take It With You on Broadway.

For more information on James Earl Jones’s life and career, please see his autobiography, Voices and Silences, available through bookstores and online retailers.

The Drama League of New York, since 1916, has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. It is one of the nation’s oldest continuously-operating, not-for-profit arts advocacy and education organizations. Through its programs, initiatives and events, The Drama League indelibly transforms the lives of artists and audiences by harnessing the unique social and creative dynamism of theatre. Its nationally-renowned, award-winning efforts have two vital goals: To train and nurture the artists of tomorrow and to deepen and strengthen the audience experience.

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