He put OFF-OFF on-on the map!

 

Theater Resources Unlimited’s The 2018 TRU Love Benefit, “The Power of Community” honoring Baayork Lee and John Chatterton

The event honors legendary A Chorus Line co-star and co-founder of the National Asian Artists Project Baayork Lee, who will receive the TRU Spirit of Theater Award for a lifetime of creating opportunities for Asian artists. Ms. Lee is choreographing the upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration of A Chorus Line at City Center. Cast members will be coming to TRU to help celebrate her. TRU is also honoring off-off-Broadway maverick, creator of the former OOBR Awards and the Midtown International Theatre Festival, John Chatterton who will receive the TRU Entrepreneur Award for providing 17 years of developmental opportunities for a range of independent theater artists.

Performance and award show will be directed by Jonathan Cerullo, Broadway/NYC choreography consultant for Say, Goodnight Gracie; assistant director and/or choreographer for Band in Berlin, Anna Karenina, The Three Musketeers, original cast of Legs Diamond; and choreographer for Big Apple Circus’ Carnivale! & Picturesque @ Lincoln Center. He will be assisted by Andrew Winans, with music director Lulu Picart and stage manager Jim Semmelman.

APPEARANCES INCLUDE: Members of the recent U.S. National Tour, Japan International Tour, upcoming China International Tour and upcoming 50th Anniversary New York City Center productions of A Chorus Line (Mel Cabey, Samantha Cho Grossman, Aaron Patrick Craven, Giovanni Da Silva, Steven Del Col, Veronica Fiaoni, Lauren Garriott, David Grindrod, Ryan Koerber, Laura Pierpont, Zoe Schneider-Smith, Madison Tinder, Jake Vielbig and Baayork’s assistant Andrew Winans), plus Sam Simahk (Carousel revival, Curly in Oklahoma! at TUTS, 1st National Company of The King and I), will be joining Tony Award nominated Brenda Braxton (Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Chicago); original A Chorus Line co-stars and Tony Award winners Donna McKechnie and Priscilla Lopez; NAAP co-founders Nina Zoie Lam and Steven Eng, as well as selections from MITF musicals Thrill Me! by Stephen Dolginoff, Sistas (the long-run off-Broadway hit) by Dorothy Marcic, Take Me America by Bill Nable, and more!

It all takes place on Sunday, November 4, 2018 from 12pm-4pm at Caroline’s on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, NYC. Tickets are available at Eventbrite(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tru-love-benefit-2018-the-power-of-community-tickets-50935196544); details about the gala are athttps://truonline.org/events/tru-love-2018/. Tickets start at $50 for the performance only, $115 for performance plus three-course luncheon.

Event committee members include: Broadway/Off-Broadway Producers Lisa Dozier King, Pat Flicker Addiss, and Jim Kierstead and Broadway notables Donna McKechnie and Priscilla Lopez (both from the original production of A Chorus Line) and producer/promoter, Jay Michaels.

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We spoke briefly with honoree John Chatterton about this night and the decades leading up to it.

Let’s start at the top. Tell us about John Chatterton, the playwright? 

I’ve been writing since I was about 5. I started writing plays in high school, when I fell in love with the theater. I haven’t been consistent in writing — I got too involved in other activities, like producing and space management — but I wrote a screenplay a couple years ago, and I have a hankering to write more.

What inspired you to create the Off-Off Broadway Review and did that influence the creation of the Midtown International Theatre Festival? 

1935583_271029825025_424563_n.jpgI started OOBR to give producers an excuse to return my phone calls, since they’re always dying for more press. I’d written a number of plays and wanted to discuss the possibilities of production.  When FringeNYC started, one of my writers said that “someone” should start a Midtown fringe festival. A couple years later, no one had done so, so I took it on myself to start the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF). OOBR gave us the perfect springboard to reach out to theatre companies and indie producers, and we started with 19 shows. The dream of competing directly with FringeNYC — with hundreds of shows in dozens of theaters — proved beyond our reach, but we found a niche and filled it with an array of exciting shows every year for 18 years.

How has indie theatre changed over the years? 

It costs a hell of a lot more to put on a play Off-Off-Broadway than it did 20 years ago! Lord, even Theatre Row (remember the Samuel Beckett and Harold Clurman?) cost only a couple of grand a week back then! But I remember the shows I went to see for OOBR — the startling creativity put on for a pittance in a basement somewhere. Yes, you see a lot of crap, but there were moments that will stay with me for life.

What does being honored by TRU mean to you? 

TRU has been around since a little longer than I’ve worked in NY theatre. For me, it’s the most important organization of its kind. Anyone wanting to produce indie theater needs to become a member. The free monthly panels, chock-a-block with theater professionals, are worth the yearly membership, and they offer many more services and events. Bob Ost is a walking encyclopedia of artists and craftspeople to staff your next show. To be honored by TRU is, well, a great honor, and one I hardly feel worthy of.

 

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