Educational Theatre Foundation’s Free Virtual Gala to Honor Kenny Leon

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) will honor award-winning director, producer, and actor Kenny Leon with its second annual Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award on January 28 at 8:30 p.m. (EST). Leon will be recognized during the foundation’s virtual gala Theatre Alive!: A Celebration of School Theatre, which will feature performances from film, theatre, and television professionals alongside current high school students. The star-studded event, which is free and open to all, will raise critical funds for theatre programs in underserved schools across the country through an evening of performances, tributes and stories. During the evening’s program, The Shubert Organization will receive the foundation’s annual Standing Ovation Award. Additional presenters and performers will be announced at a later date.

Co-chaired by Broadway and television producer Robert Greenblatt and film and television producer Neil Meron, Theatre Alive! will be livestreamed on iHeartRadio Broadway. The event, normally held in-person, is being opened for all theatre lovers to attend and enjoy. Attendees can register online to secure their free ticket and to receive notifications as new stars are added to the lineup. The inspiring program will support two critical ETF programs: Thespian Relief Grants to Save School Theatre, which assist theatre programs financially struggling from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new Pathway program to address racial disparity in theatre.

Kenny Leon serves on the advisory board for Pathway, which he says, “will open doors for young people to discover their greater selves.” Pathway creates opportunities for high school students to work with industry professionals of color and perform works encouraging dialogue around racial equity. The program is financially supported by ETF’s Craig Zadan Memorial Fund with gifts made in tribute to the late producer following his untimely passing in August 2018.

As part of the Theatre Alive! program, ETF also will present its annual Standing Ovation Award to the Shubert Foundation, with Shubert Chairman and CEO Robert E. Wankel accepting on behalf of the organization. The award recognizes a corporation or organization making significant contributions to theatre education nationally through philanthropic efforts or program activities. The Shubert Organization is America’s oldest professional theatre company and Broadway’s largest theatre owner.

Performers and presenters for Theatre Alive! will be announced later. To attend this livestreamed gala, register online to secure a free ticket and to receive updates. More information about sponsorship and patron support for Theatre Alive! can be found at

Playbill, Apples and Oranges Arts, and iHeartRadio Broadway are presenting sponsors for Theatre Alive! Additional sponsors include NBC, Concord Theatricals, Nancy and Kenneth Duffy, Broadway Licensing, Broadway On Demand, Open Jar Studios, and Mark Weinstein.

Support also is provided by Disney Theatrical Group, Dramatists Play Service, and Mark Drum.

Photo: Chidi Nobi