Theatre Forward Gala

Theatre Forward, February 2021

streaming producer, leanna keyes smiling inside a green bordered circle

.... ....

I worked with Ken Savage to produce this fundraiser for non-profit theaters, he’s a great collaborator. We raised over $220,000 to support artists in the pandemic, so the impact was huge and felt all over the country.

Theatre Forward Gala

This star-studded digital gala raised funds for non-profit regional theaters around the country.

Participants in the virtual gala could: Experience beautiful musical performances, visit leaders from our theatres, and hear from familiar faces who call regional theatre home. The evening was about one hour in total and included a silent auction in addition to the festivities. Over $220,000 was raised through this gala!

Theatre Forward’s mission is to advance American theatre and its communities. They achieve our mission by providing funding and other resources to the country’s leading nonprofit theatres. Theatre Forward increases access and opportunity for all to experience theatre that builds community and sets the stage for individual achievement. Their focus is twofold: advancing strong theatre and educating through theatre.


Founded by their theatres in 1977, Theatre Forward was formerly known as National Corporate Theatre Fund (NCTF), which was dedicated to sustaining America’s finest not-for-profit theatres, on the stage and in the community through innovative partnerships with companies, individuals, and artists.

Theatre Forward Staff

Gretchen Shugart – Executive Director

Carl Sylvestre – Director of Development

Liv Amundsen – Communications & Patrons Services Associate

Alex Doxey – Operations & Events Associate


Ken Savage – Producer & Director

Luis Garcia – Video Designer & Editor

Leanna Keyes – Streaming Producer

Ada Westfall – Music Director & Sound Mixer

Michael P. Lawrence – Event Consultant


Carly Hughes – Host


Speciat appearances included: Annette Bening, Heidi Blickenstaff, Kathleen Chalfant, Larissa Fasthorse, David Henry Hwang, Taylor Louderman, Kelli O’Hara, AShley Park, Will Power, Regina Taylor, & Richard Thomas.


Robert Barry Fleming – Actors Theatre of Louisville

Mark Lunsford – American Repertory Theater

Jennifer Bielstein – American Conservatory Theater

Pam Mackinnon – American Conservatory Theater

Yvonne Bell – Center Theatre Group

Coleen Jackson – Cleveland Play House

Joseph Haj – Guthrie Theater

Kit Ingui – Long Wharf Theatre

Freedome Bradley-Ballentine – The Old Globe

Jeffrey Herrmann – Seattle Rep
Tom Parrish – Trinity Repertory Company


“Opening: A New World”

Performed by Kate Baldwin, George Salazar, Anika Noni Rose, Branden Noel Thomas

Piano Accompaniment by Jason Robert Brown


“Joy & Grief”

Written and Performed by The Bengsons

Courtesy of Actors Theatre of Louisville


The ACT Company of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show

Courtesy of American Conservatory Theater

Sam Pinkleton – Director & Choreographer

Ani Taj – Associate Director & Co-Choreographer

Ada Westfall – Music Director

David Möschler – Associate Music Director

Baryl Baker – Video Editor

Featuring Rotimi Agbabiaka, Tanika Baptiste, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Daya Curley, Sean Okuniewicz, Maya Phillips, Kunal Prasad, Chris Steele, Branden Noel Thomas, Alysha Umphress, Ryan Patrick Welsch & Ada Westfall


“Don’t Rain on My Parade”

Written by Bob Merrill & Jule Styne

Covered and performed by Jo Lampert & Ada Westfall


“Democracy (Reprise)” from Soft Power

Courtesy of No Guarantees

David Henry Hwang – Play & Lyrics

Jeanine Tesori – Music & Additional Lyrics

Sam Pinkleton – Choreography

Leigh Silverman – Directed

Performed by Billy Bustamante, Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Francis Jue, Austin Ky, Raymond J. Lee, Alyse Alan Louis, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Paul Heesang Miller, Kirsten Faith Oei, Genna Quintos, Conrad Ricamora, Trevor Salter, Kyra Smith, Emily Stillings, Emily Tumble, & John Yi.


Closed Captioning by C2 (Caption Coalition) Inc.


“Still I Will Love”

Written by Shaina Taub

Performed by Taylor Iman Jones, Ariel Anderson, Hannah Bautista, Melody Cohen, Thomas Fitzgerald, Katrina Franco, Kahlil Leneus, Blake Levinson, Jade Ma, Amarech Mendez, Roeen Nooran, Janelle Soriano, Riyana Srihari, Asal Takesh, & Rhea Verghese.

Piano Accompaniment by Shaina Taub