In a re-imagined virtual gala from The Public Theater, the institution looks to the future following the year’s reckoning around racism in the country. FORWARD. TOGETHER., directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, live streams October 20 at 8 PM ET.
The lineup includes Jelani Alladin, Jacqueline Antaramian, Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, Kim Blanck, Ally Bonino, Danielle Brooks, Jenn Colella, Elvis Costello, Daniel Craig, Alysha Deslorieux, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Holly Gould, Danai Gurira, Stephanie Hsu, David Henry Hwang, Oscar Isaac, Nikki M. James, Alicia Keys, John Leguizamo, John Lithgow, Audra McDonald, Grace McLean, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kelli O’Hara, Mia Pak, Suzan-Lori Parks, David Hyde Pierce, Phylicia Rashad, Liev Schreiber, Martin Sheen, Phillipa Soo, Meryl Streep, Sting and Trudie Styler, Will Swenson, Shaina Taub, Kuhoo Verma, Ada Westfall, and Kate Wetherhead. As previously planned for the canceled in-person ceremony, the gala includes a special tribute to this year’s honorees Sam Waterston and Audrey and Zygi Wilf.
“Before the world was stilled, we were set to celebrate the institution of theater as we knew it,” said Leon. “What we now know is that we have much to learn and much to do to earn our sacred place in our community. We take this time to celebrate our artists, and as we move forward with our virtual event, we understand that these are precious moments. We must strive to build institutions worthy of the beauty of our artists, and we will meet the moment with the seriousness and attention it deserves.”
The evening features stories from Public Theater alumni, songs from Public Theater musicals (including a performance by Alladin of a new song written for Public Works’ production of Hercules), and a preview of “Say Their Names,” a visual installation to be projected on the facade of The Public’s Cooper Square home dedicated to the Black lives lost to police brutality and white violence.
Anne McPherson serves as the gala’s production stage manager with music direction by Ted Sperling.