Oct. 02--The Theater Hall of Fame has just announced its class of 2013, the eight names that will be added to the 511 already inscribed in raised gold letters on the walls of the upper rotundas of Broadway's Gershwin Theatre. The induction ceremony is set for Jan. 27, 2014.
As usual, it's a diverse lot chosen from the many specialties that make up the theater world. Two actors are joined by two directors, two producers, a playwright and another that would be hard to classify.
The chief Pittsburgh connection is to Cherry Jones, who studied acting at Carnegie Mellon University. Considered by some the leading lady of the American stage, her skills are on display in "The Glass Menagerie" on Broadway. She already has two Tony Awards for "The Heiress" and "Doubt."
The other actor is Ellen Burstyn, who won a Tony for "Same Time, Next Year." Two other Broadway roles have been in "Shirley Valentine" and "84 Charing Cross Road," and she was president of Equity, the actors' union, 1982-85.
One of the leading producers of this or any time is the British impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who is most closely associated with a string of mega-musicals such as the Tony-winning "Cats," "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera," in addition to "Mary Poppins" and "Miss Saigon."
The other producer is Lynne Meadow, who has been artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Club since 1972. Although classed as off-Broadway, the MTC has transferred many shows to Broadway, such as the Tony-wining "Love! Valour! Compassion!" Ms. Meadow is also a director with a long list of prize-winning shows.
Similarly split between producing and directing is George C. Wolfe, who was artistic director of the N.Y. Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre, 1993-2004. His directing credits include "Angels in America" (both parts) and "The Colored Museum," which he also wrote.
The other director is Jerry Zaks, master of a long line of hit comedies. His four Tonys are for "Lend Me a Tenor," "Six Degrees of Separation" and revivals of "Guys and Dolls" and "The House of Blue Leaves."
Redressing a major gap is the selection of Lorraine Hansberry (1930-65), author of the seminal "A Raisin in the Sun," about to be revived again on Broadway, this time with Denzel Washington. The Hall of Fame rule of a career of at least 25 years with five major credits was waived in this case of the author of the most important African-American play of the 20th century.
It's hard to classify David Hays. For many years he was an award-winning set designer, including the premiere of "Long Day's Journey Into Night." He was also one of the founders of the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., where new plays are developed. But what undoubtedly secured his election is having been a founder of the National Theatre of the Deaf.
Inductees are selected by a ballot sent to some 300 members of the American Theater Critics Association and the Hall of Fame. Those chosen need not have had a career primarily on Broadway; heads of famous regional theaters and even critics have been selected, as well.
Senior theater critic Christopher Rawson serves on the board of the Hall of Fame and supervises the balloting. He is at 412-216-1944.
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