Jennifer Hudson, Audra McDonald, and Amber Riley will perform at the Educational Theatre Foundation's upcoming Theatre Alive! virtual gala, with additional performers to be announced in the coming days. The event, which will be emceed by Nia Vardalos and John Stamos, will stream free with registration on Playbill January 28 at 8:30 PM ET.
The benefit event supports ETF and their efforts to increase access to theatre education in underserved schools. The 2021 gala will specifically support two programs: the Thespian Relief Grants to Save School Theatre, which provided financial relief to theatre programs struggling with the effects of COVID-19; and Pathway, a new program addressing racial disparity in theatre.
As previously announced, Kenny Leon and The Shubert Organization will receive honors during the gala. Samuel L. Jackson and Latanya Richardson Jackson will present Leon with the second annual Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award in recognition of his dedication to promoting and preserving the joy of theatre, inspiring young artists, and leaving a lasting impact on generations to come. Producer Neil Meron will present The Shubert Organization with the Standing Ovation Award, which will be accepted by Shubert Organization Chairman and CEO Robert E. Wankel.
"The Educational Theatre Foundation is honored to have Nia Vardalos and John Stamos emcee Theatre Alive!,” says ETF President Julie Cohen Theobald. “They will take what promises to be a sensational evening to another level. The evening’s entertainment, with stars like Jennifer Hudson, Audra McDonald, and Amber Riley performing, is certain to be a captivating experience. Being able to open the gala up for anyone to watch is a real thrill for ETF.”
“As all working actors know, the future of our industry is in the next generation. Hosting this event is our thinly veiled audition for these young professionals and we hope they will remember us when they’re casting their projects,” adds Vardalos.
Presenting sponsors forTheatre Alive! include Playbill, Apples and Oranges Arts, and iHeart Radio Broadway. NBC, Concord Theatricals, Nancy and Kenneth Duffy, Broadway Licensing, Broadway On Demand, Open Jar Studios, and Mark Weinstein are additional sponsors, with support also provided by Disney Theatrical Group, Dramatists Play Service, and Mark Drum.