The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival - Opening Night Champagne Gala and Awards Ceremony

The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival will honor five women for their exceptional career and life achievements in its Opening Night Champagne Gala and Awards Ceremony on March 26, 2015 at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California. 

The deserving honorees who have made laudable contributions to the world of theatre are listed here:


Honoree Esperanza America

Esperanza America will receive the Maverick Award, presented to an artist or individual whose work has set a high standard of individuality and self-styled creativity. Born and raised in East L.A., the graduate of UCLA’s School of Film and Television has amassed an enviable list of credits while still a young woman. Hailed last year by the Los Angeles Times as one of the city’s finest female actors, she was a singing star in A Mexican Trilogy,which won the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Ted Schmitt Award. She has been a member of the critically acclaimed multidisciplinary performing arts ensemble, The Vault, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, where she also recently appeared in Habitatand in Melancholia.At the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, she appeared in the title singing role of The Virgin of Guadalupe in the Latino Theater Company’s annual Christmas show. Ms. America has also emerged as an actor in television, on Single Ladiesand Southland, and in film, in Cry Now, Water and Power,and in a leading role in Gino’s Wife.

Honoree Margaret Avery

Margaret Avery will be the recipient of the Integrity Award, presented to an artist who has brought credibility and dignity to her work. Born in Oklahoma and trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, she pursued an earlier career as an educator before becoming an actor. Discovered by Clint Eastwood while she was appearing in a stage production of Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie?,he quickly cast her in Magnum Force, which led to a succession of other roles in television and film, most notably her Oscar®-nominated performance in The Color Purple. She appears in the current television series Being Mary Jane. Her many stage credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Having Our Say, Same Time Next Year, The Gin Game, Fences, The River Niger (which was an L.A. Times Critics Choice), and much more. She is the recipient of L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award. Devoted to philanthropic activities, she has donated her time and energies to at-risk youth, women’s issues, and as an advocate for the Lupus Foundation of America.

Honoree Lainie Kazan

Lainie Kazan will be bestowed with the Eternity Award, given to an artist or individual whose lifetime achievements have made a lasting contribution to the world of theatre. A star of film and television as well as theatre, Ms. Kazan appeared in five shows on Broadway, including My Favorite Year (receiving a Tony® Nomination for a role that she created on film that netted her a Golden Globe Nomination); The Government Inspector; Funny Girl; Bravo, Giovanni;and The Happiest Girl in the World.Her other stage credits include The Exonerated, The Vagina Monologues,and Bermuda Avenue Triangle. A celebrated cabaret artist, she has appeared in the most important nightclubs on both coasts and appeared 26 times on The Dean Martin Show. Ms. Kazan has had multiple regular and recurring roles on television series as well as blockbuster films. She has donated her time and talents to charities including AIDS Project LA, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, B’nai Brith, Young Musicians Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Honoree Alice Tuan

Alice Tuan will be the recipient of this year’s Rainbow Award, bestowed on an artist or individual for her diverse contributions in fostering non-traditional and multi-cultural theatre works. A playwright with a significant national reputation, her most recent full-length play, Hit, had its World Premiere at Los Angeles Theatre Center this past season, featuring an ethnically diverse cast. Other recent works, including Cocks Crowand Private Rivals,concern Americans in Shanghai. Other plays by the prolific writer include Ajax (por noboday), Ikebana (Drama-Logue Award winner), Some Asians, The Secret History of the Lower East Side, and much more. She is a winner of the Richard E. Sherwood Award and the Colbert Award for Excellence. Ms. Tuan has been active in China, South Korea and the Netherlands as well as the U.S. Recently, she served as an advisor to the Playwrights Nest Festival of the Latino Theater Alliance.

Honoree Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch will posthumously receive the Infinity Award, memorializing exceptional achievements of a theatre artist. Although she appeared in movies and television, her greatest renown was as a Broadway star, in a career that lasted 65 years, receiving four Tony nominations and winning three Drama Desk Awards. She was acclaimed as a leading interpreter of the songs of Stephen Sondheim, and adored by playwright Noel Coward, who created a show around her. A solo show, Elaine Stritch At Liberty, won a Tony Award as a special theatrical event. Her other Broadway shows include A Delicate Balance, Bus Stop, A Little Night Music, Sail Away, Show Boat, Company, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Sin of Pat Muldoon, Love Letters, On Your Toes, Pal Joey, Yes M’Lord, Call Me Madam, Angel in the Wings, Made in Heaven, and Loco.Accepting the award on her behalf will be Academy Award® winner George Chakiris.

Academy Award Winner George Chakiris

LAWTF Board Member and Spokeswoman Kat Kramer

Board Member Kat Kramer, said, “I am proud to serve on the Board Of Directors for the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival and to be on the Gala Committee. I have been developing my new solo show through LAWTF and they are oldest theatre festival for women in Los Angeles. They are  diverse and multi-cultural  and include performers from around the globe. For the 2015 Festival Awards Gala on March 26th, I have nominated  the great Lainie Kazan for the Eternity Award, which I am presenting, and the late incomparable Elaine Stritch posthumously for the Infinity Award. I'm thrilled to announce that Academy Award winning legend George Chakiris  will accept in honor of Elaine. I have donated raffle items from my father Stanley Kramer's collection as well as rare CD's from Lainie,  a DVD of Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me with an accompanying letter from the filmmaker Chiemi Karasawa, and rarest of all, George Chakiris has personally donated his jewelry called DECO CUFF BRACELET. This will take place this week with the fest running from March 26-March 29th at Electric Lodge in Venice.”

The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival was founded by Executive Producer Adilah Barnes and Miriam Reed. The Festival is an annual event unique among American cultural institutions and should not be missed.

Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival is a non-profit organization. This year’s annual organizational supporters include the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City National Bank, Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles, City of Culver City, and Adilah Barnes Productions.

Admission to the Gala is $50 or two tickets for $90 (includes light fare and Champagne). For the other programs, ticket prices this year include general admission single show tickets at $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. Students, seniors, and groups of ten or more, $18. Children 12 and under, $10.

Reservations: (818) 760-0408. Online reservations will be available at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival website. To join and follow LAWTF on Facebook and Twitter, click on their links on the site.

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