By Melissa Griegel . . .

Honoree George C. White was honored on April 11th, by the Eugene C. O’Neill Theater Center at the 21st Annual Monte Cristo Award Gala. This year’s gala was held at Gotham Hall in New York City.

The Monte Cristo Award is named for the New London, CT cottage where playwright Eugene O’Neill grew up. It is also the setting for Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!. The award is presented annually to a theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career that expemplifies O’Neill’s pioneering spirit, unceasing artistic commitment, and excellence in the industry. Past recipients include Brian Dennehy, James Early Jones, Nathan Lane, Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Harold Prince, and August Wilson.

Michael Douglas toasting George C. Whie

This year’s award was presented in absentia to George C. White, by previous winner and trustee Michael Douglas. White was not able to be present, due to illness, but was able to watch remotely. White, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, has a long history with the theater running numerous theater programs, directing plays, and serving on numerous theater and arts boards. White also spent 37 years as President of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut.

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, named in honor of the four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, was founded in 1964 by George C. White. The O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and thousands more emerging artists.

The O’Neill has launched some of the most important voices and works in American theater and has revolutionized the way new work is developed. Many of the evening’s speakers and performers have participated at the O’Neill Theater Center, which offers a wide-variety of programs including the National Playwrights ConferenceNational Music Theater ConferenceNational Critics InstituteNational Puppetry ConferenceCabaret & Performance Conference, and the National Theater Institute, which offers six credit-earning undergraduate training programs.

  • Michael Douglas Toasting George White

Speakers at the Gala included Paulette Haupt, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the National Music Theater Conference (1978-2017), Ellie Ellsworth, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Cabaret Symposium (1989-2000), Tom Viertel, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Chairman of the Board, Tiffani Gavin, Exuctive Director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Rachel Jett, Artistic Director of The National Theater Institute, Scott Richards, Trustee, and White’s son George along with his wife Juliet. Michael Douglas, after toasting to George C. White with his favorite drink, vodka, committed to donating one million dollars to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Guests were given personalized vodka shot glasses to toast along with Douglas.

Performers for the evening included Forrest McClendon, Deonna Bouye, and Y’vonee Rose reading a scene from August Wilson’s Piano Lesson, puppetry by Tyler Bunch who showed up with a puppet of Eugene O’Neill, an appearance by Avenue Q’s Kate Monster with puppeteer and actress Stephanie D’Abruzzo at the helm, “A Call from the Vatican” by Lauren Molina, a rousing version of “Let it Sing” by Joshua Henry, and performance . Cynthia Meng accompanied all on the piano. Tom Kitt closed out the evening with “My Dad the Superhero,”singing at the piano. A surprise for the guests and the honorees, was an appearance by a puppet of George C. White. For more information on the Eugene O’ Neill Theater Center, click here:

Photos by Melissa Griegel

Lead Photo: Puppet of George C. White