90th Anniversary Gala for Town Hall, NYC

On May 2, 2011 at 8:00 PM, The Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street), led by Marvin Leffler (President) and Lawrence Zucker (Executive Director), will celebrate its 90th Anniversary with a benefit concert paying tribute to the rich cultural history of the institution from 1921 to the present day.

The concert will star Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, Tony Award nominee Liz Callaway, Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk, Theatre world and Emmy Award winner Tovah Feldshuh, legendary Jazz guitarist and banjoist Bucky Pizzarelli and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner. Dancers/choreographers Jeffry Denman (“White Christmas,” “Yank!”) and Noah Racey (“Curtains”) will dance together.

The performance list is still in formation as of this writing and more will be announced. Scott Siegel, creator/writer and host of The Town Hall’s acclaimed Broadway By The Year series, has written and will host the evening. All proceeds will benefit The Town Hall’s Educational Outreach program.

The original performers’ contemporary counterparts will recall both in narrative and with performances famous historical moments in musical theater, jazz, opera, dance, blues, country music, and comedy that took place on The Town Hall stage. The benefit and pre-concert celebration is co-chaired by Douglas Durst from the Durst Organization and Timothy Tompkins from the Times Square Alliance.

Broadway By The Year, helmed by Scott Siegel, is a perennial favorite at The Town Hall. This picture is taken from Broadway by the Year 1966. Siegel has written and will direct the Gala. Photo courtesy of The Town Hall.

The Mayor has proclaimed May 2 as The Town Hall Day and the New York State Assemble and Senate have issued a joint resolution congratulating The Hall.

The Town Hall has had an incredible history and was built with the vision of becoming the hall for the people. Through the years, it has brought great performances to the people of New York at prices that New Yorkers can actually afford. It launched and furthered the careers of many performers past and present including: Marian Anderson, Billy Holiday, Bob Dylan, and Miles Davis.

The institution continues to make history and foster modern culture by remaining a hotspot for pop culture icons, such as Robin Williams, Billy Joel, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Al Gore, Bruce Springsteen, Jay Leno, Nora Jones, Dave Matthews, Vanessa Williams and Ben Folds. For over 20 years The Town Hall has hosted live broadcasts of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.”

The Town Hall’s building was erected by the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead and White under the auspices of The League for Political Education to educate women, who had just won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment, in political issues. Beyond providing a platform for important lectures and debates, The Town Hall became the venue of choice for debut recitalists in New York City. Thus began The Hall’s longstanding tradition of showcasing the finest young talent. Since then, “The People’s Hall” has staged world-class performances in cabaret, dance, music, opera, and theatre, as well as hosted some of the 20th and 21st century’s most legendary artistic, cultural, and political figures.

One of The Town Hall’s most lauded programs was the Peabody Award-winning “America’s Town Meeting of the Air,” which graced radio airwaves from 1935-1956, featuring some of the best-known political and literary personalities of the day. Twentieth century politics has marched across The Town Hall stage through the voices of Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt (defending the New Deal), Jane Addams (the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), Adlai Stevenson, Fiorello LaGuardia, William Butler Yeats (Nobel Prize Winning Poet) and Margaret Sanger, the birth control advocate who spoke about her “radical ideas,” and was arrested on the spot and carried off stage.

The Town Hall’s Educational Outreach Program helps schools build their arts programs and advance student learning through standards-based, collaborative arts residencies. In addition to offering residencies in drama, technical theatre, music, dance, and fine arts, The Town Hall also customizes its curriculum to meet the needs of each school. Teaching artists bring hands on, interactive workshops to New York City school students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. These activities introduce new skills that foster creative expression, self-awareness, and personal discipline.


For tickets and information about the benefit, which includes a pre-show reception and concert, call (212) 997-1003 or log on to www.the-townhall-nyc.org.

For those not wishing to attend the reception, $55 and $50 tickets are available through Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787, or www.ticketmaster.com, or by visiting The Town Hall Box Office between noon and 6:00 PM (except Sundays) at 123 W. 43rd St., (212) 840-2824.

Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.