by: Brian Scott Lipton
Video/Photos: Magda Katz
From his iconic stage performances in “Othello,” “The Great White Hope,” and “The Best Man” to his legendary voiceover work as Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” few actors have had as varied a career as EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award) winner James Earl Jones. So it was only fitting that the soon-to-be 84-year-old thespian was honored at the Drama League’s 31st annual “Musical Celebration of Broadway,” which was held on Monday, February 2 at the Pierre Hotel.
The 90-minute show combined musical numbers, such as “You Gotta Have Heart” (performed by the current leads of “Jersey Boys”), “I Was Here” (sung brilliantly by Brian Stokes Mitchell) and “For Good” (sung by Annaleigh Ashford), along with special musical material (such as Leslie Uggams’ show-stopping “Me and Mr. Jones”), re-creations of speeches from “Othello” (read by John Douglas Thompson), “Fences” (by Ruben Santiago-Hudson), and “Field of Dreams” (read by Estelle Parsons), and tributes from fellow actors Tyne Daly, Dylan Walsh, and Kelsey Grammer. The tribute culminated with a special “rap” number performed by Jones’ fellow castmates from his current show, “You Can’t Take It With You” and the presentation of the award by co-stars Richard Thomas and Elizabeth Ashley and director Scott Ellis.
Before the show, Theater Pizzazz spoke to many of the evening’s participants and special guests, including Elizabeth Ashley, Alan Cumming, Santino Fontana, Montego Glover, Julie Halston, James Monroe Iglehart, Judith Light, Christopher Sieber, and Suzyn Waldman. Take a look.