The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center honored multi-discipline creative artist Lin-Manuel Miranda with the 18th Monte Cristo Award, last week at a private dinner at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.
An alumnus of the O’Neill, Miranda’s first professional production was at the O’Neill’s National Music Theater Conference with In The Heights in 2005. The gala dinner featured a conversation with the honoree and raised $575,000 to support the Center’s commitment to developing new work and new artists for the stage.
The O’Neill annually bestows its Monte Cristo Award on a prominent theater artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theater, in memory of its namesake.
The evening featured performances of some of Miranda’s work – including a performance of “It Won’t Be Long Now,” from In the Heights, by Karen Olivo, Perry Young, and Mateo Ferro as well as a performance of “I’m Out,” by Anthony Ramos. Hamilton stars and O’Neill alumni Javier Munoz and Christopher Jackson performed “One Last Time.” Alex Lacamoire was the evening’s music director and lead a band of musicians from the Broadway orchestras of In the Heights and Hamilton. The highlight of the evening was when actress Lindsay Menez led an “In Conversation” with Miranda who discussed his time at the O’Neill, how theatre will always be close to his heart, hir writing process, his continued work with Puerto Rico and the importance of “finding your crew.”
Lin also discussed the scholarship that he and his family set-up for students of color to attend the O’Neill’s undergraduate training program, the National Theater Institute. “It’s important to me because I had such an amazing time the O’Neill,” said Miranda. “Not just as a writer, because I had time to work on IN THE HEIGHTS, but seeing the experience the interns had, the experience all the students around us had, Watching as they went from amazing playwright to amazing playwright, soaking up the workshop process of their lives, I said, this is what we need, the notion of access and really being a part of art as it’s being created. I think that’s the goal. Access and opportunities, that’s what we’re trying to fund.”
Javier Munoz presented Miranda with the Monte Cristo Award. It was at the O’Neill that Javier and Lin first met.
Additional guests included: Michael Douglas, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alexander Gemignani, Christopher Jackson, Alex Lacamoire, Judith Light, Adam Kantor, John McDaniel, Lindsay Mendez, Karen Olivo, Betsy Wolfe, Tom Kitt, Heidi Blickenstaff, and others.
The chairs for the conversation were provided by O’Neill alumna and set director for THE GOOD FIGHT Beth Kushnick (NTI fall ’80).. They are the RBL chair from her home decor line for THE GOOD FIGHT in collaboration with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarks, “Lin-Manuel’s pioneering spirit continues to transform the American theater landscape since he first launched and developed his In The Heights at the O’Neill in 2005, and through every endeavor he undertakes. Not since Eugene O’Neill has there been someone who so firmly plants American theater in the cultural landscape of this nation, and worldwide. We are delighted to recognize him with our 2017 Monte Cristo Award.”
It was also announced that the O’Neill has named the newly-built studio in the Jim & Jane Henson Rehearsal Hall , the “Lin-Manuel Miranda Studio.”
This past May, The Miranda Family Fund announced their commitment to provide scholarships for artists of color to attend the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute. NTI’s credit-earning theater intensives—taught by industry professionals and master teachers—train actors, singers, directors, dancers, designers, playwrights, and composers to produce, write, direct, and act in their own work, as well as create their own path in the industry. NTI is a pipeline to the profession – and with this partnership, The Miranda Family Fund and NTI will further the inclusion of artists of color across all disciplines of theater.
For more information on the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center visit: www.theoneill.org.