Urban Stages 38th Annual Benefit Monday, May 23rd - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Urban Stages 38th Annual Benefit Monday, May 23rd

Urban Stages (Frances Hill, Artistic/Producing Director) is proud to announce the Off-Broadway theater’s 38th Annual Benefit will celebrate performers and a return to the stage after a prolonged shutdown.  This year’s honorees have all starred on the Urban Stages stage during their careers and include Tony Award winner Reed Birney will be presented with Urban Stages’ Luminary Award and Terence Archie, Nikki M. James, and AJ Shively will receive a mid-career award. Author and commentator, Michael Riedel, will introduce the night’s awardees.

Urban Stages 38th Annual Gala will take place on Monday, May 23rd, 2022 at the Central Park Boathouse. Cocktails, gondola rides on the lake, and live music from two decorated Ukrainian musicians, dorma player Kateryna Aiman and bandura player Lesya Verba, will start off the evening. Nicholas Lowry from Swann Galleries will head up the live auction.  

REED BIRNEY starred in Urban Stages’ commercial move of Minor Demons by Bruce Graham in 1997. Birney first moved to New York in 1974 and within three years, he took his first bow on Broadway in Albert Innaurato’s Gemini. Birney has established himself as a ubiquitous actor, performing in more than 30 off-Broadway and original productions. He received the 2006 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance, and in 2011, the Drama Desk Career Award honored his career. In 2012 Birney returned to Broadway in Picnic. In 2014 he was nominated for a Tony for his performance Casa Valentina, a role which also won him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor. He earned a Tony for The Humans. With a reputation as an “actor’s actor," he has a rich film career, with TV roles in "House of Cards," "The Blacklist," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Succession," among others. Recent film roles include Mass, The Forty-Year-Old Version, and The Hunt. He is part of an all-actor family with his wife Constance Shulman, daughter Gus, and son Ephraim.

TERENCE ARCHIE created and starred in the Urban Stages’ touring play, The Peanut Prince, about George Washington Carver for several seasons through Urban Stages’ Outreach Program. He went on to originate the role of Apollo Creed on Broadway in Rocky The Musical as well as the German-translated production in Hamburg, Germany. He currently stars on Broadway in Company (2021) and his other Broadway credits include Ragtime (2009) and Kiss Me, Kate (2019) along with numerous theater, TV, and film roles.

NIKKI M. JAMES starred in The Silverfish by Meghan Loughran in Urban Stage’s 2020 virtual reading series aimed at giving audiences access to free theater while Urban Stages was shuttered due to the onset of the pandemic. James won a Tony Award for the Book of Mormon (2011) for the role of Nabalungi which she originated. She first made her Broadway debut in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2001) and later took on the role of Éponine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables (2014). Recently, along with multiple films and TV projections, she starred in Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day (2019) and is currently starring as Ida B. Wells in the new sold-out musical, SUFFS by Shaina Taub (Book, lyrics, music)

A.J. SHIVELY appeared early in his career at Urban Stages in Joe Iconis’ Rewrite (2009). He began his professional career at the age of 12 in the national tour of Big and trained at the University of Michigan and RADA. In 2010, he made his Broadway debut in La Cage aux Folles (2010) playing Jean-Michel opposite Kelsey Grammer.  He created the role of Billy Cane in Steve Martin’s and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star (2014) on Broadway for which he received a Drama Desk Nomination. Currently, A.J. is starring as Owen Duignan in the new Broadway musical Paradise Square. He has been seen as Jerry McConnell on CBS’s “Bull” and will be seen as Chef André Soltner in HBO Max’s Julia, premiering on March 31st.

Tickets, Tables & More Information: urbanstages.org 
212.421.1380 for questions
Tickets are partially tax-deductible.

All Proceeds will go to Urban Stages programming: Urban Stages is an award-winning, not-for-profit, Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by current Artistic Director Frances Hill. For over 35 years, Urban Stages has produced dozens of world, American, and N.Y. premieres including Pulitzer Prize Finalist Bulrusher (2007) by Eisa Davis. We have been honored with awards, nominations, and recognition from the Drama Desk, Obie Awards, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle, and more. Plays produced at Urban Stages also often move on to larger venues and/or publication. Charmed Life from Soul Singing to Opera Star by Lori Brown Mirabal (2021) Bars and Measures by Idris Goodwin (2019) were critically acclaimed. Death of a Driver (2019) by Will Snider went on to a regional production at The Salt Lake Acting Company. In our 2017/18 season, A Deal by Zhu Yi (world premiered at Urban Stages) toured China, and Dogs of Rwanda by Sean Christopher Lewis (New York premiered at Urban Stages) toured regionally. Other notable productions include the world premiere of the musical Langston In Harlem by Walter Marks (music and book) and Kent Gash (book and direction) garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a Joe A. Calloway award, and 4 Audelco awards including Best Musical Production of 2010. Critically acclaimed hits Mabel Madness by Tony-winner Trezana Beverley (2016), Communion by Daniel MacIvor (2016), and Angry Young Man by Ben Woolf (2017) which transferred to the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall in East Hampton have premiered at Urban Stages. In addition, Unseamly, by Oren Safdie (2015), was an N.Y. Times Critics’ Pick. Jim Brochu’s Character Man (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle award for Best Solo performance and Honky (2013) by Greg Kalleres saw a regional run at San Diego Rep and was televised nationally on PBS in late 2015.  1996’s Men on The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes and Minor Demons by Bruce Graham both moved to commercial theatres. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). My Occasion of Sin (2012) by Monica Bauer won critical acclaim when it moved to Detroit Rep. Bill Bowers has toured regionally and internationally with his two Urban Stages’ premieres blending mime and theatre – Beyond Words (2012) and Under A Montana Moon (2002)! Some Urban Stages premieres have even been developed into film and television projects such as Scar by Murray Mednick, Conversations with The Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets. In addition to plays and musicals, annually we hold a music festival - Winter Rhythms - that features famous and up-and-coming Cabaret, musicians, lyricists, and other music artists. In 2016, Winter Rhythms was honored with the Bistro Award for Outstanding Series, and in 2015, it received the Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series M.A.C. Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.

Tickets and Tables are available at urbanstages.org 

Or by calling (212 421-1380)

Each ticket  (above $200) is tax-deductible.

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