Harold Prince, Chita Rivera and Stephen Sondheim Are Jerome Robbins Award Honorees; Tribute to Feature Bernadette Peters
By Kenneth Jones
The Jerome Robbins Foundation announced dancer-actress Chita Rivera, composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and director-producer Harold Prince — who worked with Robbins on West Side Story — as shared recipients of the 2013 Jerome Robbins Award, to be presented Feb. 18 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in Manhattan.
An evening of performances hosted by Frank Rich and featuring stars from Broadway and dancers from New York City Ballet will be included in the invitation-only presentation. The performance portion of the evening is being produced and directed by Gregory Victor. The musical director will be Eugene Gwozdz.
"My colleagues and I could not think of three greater Broadway luminaries than Hal, Chita and Stephen," Christopher Pennington, executive director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation said in a statement. "They were obvious choices for their astounding body of work, for their commitment to and passion for musical theatre, and for bringing their vitality and talent to the American stage for more than half a century."
Directors Ellen Sorrin and Allen Greenberg stated, "When these three artists came together in 1957 to join Jerome Robbins and the other creators of West Side Story, their collective contributions changed musical theatre forever."
After opening remarks by Rich, the program will highlight each artist's work in three separate acts. As of this writing, the Harold Prince section will include David Pittu performing "Dressing Them Up" (from Kiss of the Spider Woman) and LaChanze singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine" (from Show Boat). Rich will present the award to Prince, who was a producer of the original West Side Story, which Robbins directed and choreographed.
The Chita Rivera segment will follow with Anthony Crivello performing "Rosie" (from Bye Bye Birdie), as well as Charlotte d'Amboise and Deidre Goodwin performing "Nowadays" (from Chicago). Rivera's daughter, Lisa Mordente, will present the award to her mother. Rivera, of course, played Anita in the original West Side Story.
Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli will open the Stephen Sondheim segment by performing "Children Will Listen/Children and Art" (from Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George). Bernadette Peters will then perform a Sondheim song (selection to come), followed by the award presentation to Sondheim, who is West Side Story's lyricist (working with composer Leonard Bernstein).
The finale of the program will be "America," from West Side Story — the show that brought all three honorees together in 1957 on Broadway. It will feature Georgina Pazcoguin and dancers from the New York City Ballet.
In 1970, Robbins, a major figure in the dance and theatre world as both a director and choreographer, established The Jerome Robbins Foundation with the intent to support dance, theatre and their associative arts. Following the outbreak of AIDS, Robbins directed the Foundation's resources almost exclusively to the AIDS crisis. Before his death in 1998, Robbins expressed his wish that the foundation again extend its resources to the performing arts — dance and theatre especially, but not exclusively — including what developed into The Jerome Robbins Award.
Past recipients are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Jennifer Tipton, Robert Wilson, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and 30 current and former principal ballerinas from New York City Ballet.
Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. For more information, visit www.bacnyc.org.
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