The Tony Awards Administration Committee has announced that they will present the 2020 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre to four outstanding contributors to the Broadway industry - Fred Gallo, President of PRG Scenic Technologies; Broadway press agent Irene Gandy; stage manager Beverly Jenkins and New Federal Theatre, Woodie King, Jr. Founder.
The Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre were established in 1990 and are awarded annually to institutions, individuals and/or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre, but are not eligible in any of the established Tony Award categories.
“We are thrilled to recognize these deserving individuals and organizations with Tony Honors this year,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “New Federal Theatre, Fred Gallo, Irene Gandy, and Beverly Jenkins have made immeasurable contributions to the theatre community, and their impact will be felt for years to come. We could not think of a more deserving group of honorees, and we are proud to recognize their many achievements!”
Fred Gallo grew up in a well-known family of Broadway stagehands and began building scenery at an early age. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering, he started working at Feller Scenery, then one of the leading shops in the industry. Fred worked as a Local One stagehand and production carpenter on many Broadway shows. Later, Fred co-founded Scenic Technologies leading to the formation of PRG. Since then, PRG has become one of the world’s leading suppliers of scenery and automation for theatrical productions. Fred has supervised the build and engineering design for countless scenic projects. Over the past 40 years Fred has been associated with such productions as Beatlemania; Frankenstein; Pygmalion; The Phantom of the Opera; Miss Saigon; The Who’s Tommy; Beauty and the Beast; The Producers; Wicked; Sweet Charity; Les Misérables; Shrek, Promises, Promises; Beautiful; Come From Away; King Kong and dozens of other productions. Fred has also been the technical director for some of the most challenging shows on Broadway: Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, King Kong, and the World Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. Fred holds patents for theatrical equipment he designed and frequently serves as a consultant on the engineering of theatrical rigging systems for theatres worldwide. Over the past 12 years, he has designed the renovation of over 135 theatres to enable them to present large and technically sophisticated productions. He was the recipient of the Backstage Legends and Masters Award in 2014.
Irene Gandy is the only Black female press agent member of ATPAM (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers) for over 50 years. Working with Producer Jeffrey Richards for over three decades, she is a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer for The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and was a producer for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill starring Audra MacDonald. She was also co-producer with Voza Rivers of the National tour of South African musical Sarafina. In 2008, she became the first female press agent to be immortalized with a Sardi’s caricature. A fashionista known for her furs, in 2015 she launched a signature collection featured in Vogue magazine and will debut a Lady Irene Fur line in 2022. Gandy’s recent productions include The Great Society, American Son, China Doll, Fiddler on the Roof, and You Can't Take It With You. She began her career in 1968 as a publicist with Douglas Turner Ward and Robert Hooks’ Negro Ensemble Company. Since then, she has worked on over 100 Broadway shows including August: Osage County, Glengarry Glen Ross, Radio Golf, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music, and The Wiz. In addition to her work in theatre, she was Associate Director of Special Markets for CBS Records, working with such artists as Earth, Wind and Fire, The Jacksons, Labelle, etc. Her personal music clients include Freddie Jackson and Nona Hendryx. Gandy is the Press Consultant for Harlem Week, recipient of the 1997 National Action Network’s “Woman of Excellence Award,” the 2007 Vanguard Award from Black to Broadway Productions, the 2004 Black Public Relations Society Award, 2013 “Inspire in New York” Award, 2015 Pioneer Award for BLACK PRIDE NYC, and the 2015 Café Mocha “Salute Her” “Media Legend Award.” Other Awards: Project 1 Voice Lifetime Achievement for outstanding achievements and vision to artistic excellence in the American theater; HARLEM WEEK Vivian Robinson Arts and Culture; and "Life Changers" presented by WNBA players Teresa Weatherspoon and Rita Haywood for inspiring, transforming, and empowering others. In 2018 she was honored with Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO "Pioneer Award" for Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre. In 2019 she was honored with the NAACP-LGBQT David Weaver Prize for Excellence in the Arts. 2020 Gandy was inducted into New York Public Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library as part of The League of Professional Theatre Women’s Oral History Project. She currently serves on the boards of City College for the Arts, Harlem Week and New Heritage Theater.
Beverly Jenkins has been a professional stage manager for over 30 years. She is currently the production stage manager for the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Hadestown. A graduate of Howard University, Ms. Jenkins got her start on Broadway as the production assistant on Five Guys Named Moe and eventually became the assistant stage manager. She has since managed many Broadway shows; her credits include A Bronx Tale: The Musical, Fully Committed, Amazing Grace, Living On Love, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Machinal, Godspell, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, In the Heights, Shrek: The Musical, Avenue Q, Aida, Sweet Charity, Oklahoma!, The Lion King, Bring In Da Noise/Bring In Da Funk, and Miss Saigon, along with numerous other productions. She has worked with Roundabout Theatre Company on Bad Jews and If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet and at Paper Mill Playhouse for the regional run of A Bronx Tale. During her career in theatre management, Ms. Jenkins has been production supervisor for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and A Bronx Tale, company manager at The Negro Ensemble Company, and executive assistant at Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop. When she served as producer for the AUDELCO Awards, she had the pleasure of working closely with the organization’s founder, Vivian E. Robinson. She toured Europe with Jubilation! Dance Company and has managed numerous special events and benefits. Beverly has served as executive director of the Black Rock Coalition and has taught at several universities including NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University and has been a lecturer at the Yale School of Drama. Ms. Jenkins is on the board of trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and co-founder of Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color.
New Federal Theatre’s mission is to integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theatre by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences – plays that evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves. New Federal Theatre (NFT), founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970, is an outgrowth of a theatre program called Mobilization for Youth. This neighborhood-based professional theatre was originally funded by the Henry Street Settlement along with a small grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. The theatre’s first season was launched in the basement of St. Augustine’s Church on Henry Street. Several early successes brought NFT to national prominence: Black Girl by J.E. Franklin won a Drama Desk Award; The Taking of Miss Janie by Ed Bullins moved from NFT to Lincoln Center and won the Drama Critics Circle Award; For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbowis Enuf by Ntozake Shange performed on Broadway for 10 months and was nominated for the Best Play Tony Award® before embarking on a three-year national tour. It has subsequently been performed regionally and around the world, and was revived off-Broadway in 2019. Both For Colored Girls… and The Taking of Miss Janie were co-produced with the late Joseph Papp. Many performers benefited from early successes on NFT’s stage, including the late Chadwick Boseman, Debbie Allen, Morgan Freeman, Phylicia Rashad, Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Issa Rae, and many more. NFT has focused on the production of new works, often by young playwrights. Many plays first premiered at NFT have established the reputations of playwrights who have gone on to bigger successes later in their careers. For example, Charles Fuller premiered two plays at NFT, In My Many Names and Days and The Candidate. He was later to win the Pulitzer Prize for A Soldier’s Play. David Henry Hwang premiered The Dance and the Railroad at NFT and was later to win the Tony Award for Best Play for M. Butterfly.
The Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will host a multi-platform celebration on Sunday, September 26th, starting with the presentation of the American Theatre Wing’s 74th Annual Tony Awards LIVE at 7:00 PM ET / 4:00 PM PT exclusively on Paramount+, followed by “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+ and the CBS app.
For more information on the Tony Awards, please visit www.TonyAwards.com and follow @TheTonyAwards on social media.