Theatre Forward board member Thomas C. Quick opened his well-appointed Sutton Place home in anticipation of their 2017 Chairman’s Awards Gala in April, marking 40 years of American theater support. By fostering meaningful new works at regional nonprofit theaters, as well as providing arts education programs for communities, Theatre Forward is responsible, year after year, for many of the plays that mark the Broadway season. This year, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Anastasia, Come From Away, and Dear Evan Hansen were all incubated at one of their network of 19 leading nonprofit regional theatres across the country.
Broadway Producers Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, Alicia and Dan Bythewood, Wendy Sarasohn, Kathleen and Gary Rothschild, Steve Goldstein, Amy Miles, Betsy and Wallace Turner, Michel Cox Witmer, Julie O’Rourke, Jeannie Lawrence, Marianne Cassini, Christine De Lisle, Lucia Hwong Gordon and Michael Donnell were among the guests.
“The plays of August Wilson went through many of our theaters before they came to New York,” Executive Director Bruce Whitacre told Hamptons.com. “As did Into the Woods, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Once and Waitress. Every year there are four to five shows. We fund them and support them when they’re here through great backstage events for our patrons.” There are lots of exclusive behind the scenes events and house seat offers for gala committee members.
On the local level, through its Advancing Strong Theatre initiative, they support productions advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Their Educating through Theatre Initiative supports education programs for underserved children. Director of Development Carl Sylvestre told us they service students from the poorest districts in the country. “We’re working with schools that otherwise wouldn’t have access. Theatres create programs to bring them to shows and after school programs where they learn to work with teaching artists, using theatre games to talk about their lives or integrate their studies,” he explained. “We did a survey that found arts education actually increases the academic performance. One of my favorite programs is in San Francisco in the American Conservatory Theater, where we work with students who are young mothers and fathers and therefore in danger of dropping out of school. We’ve had great success getting most of them to graduate within 12-18 months.”
For more information, visit theatreforward.org.