Bevin Ross, Gabriel Stelian Shanks & Bonnie Comley - You Can Sit With Us! at The Drama League Gala

Written by

Jorge Lucena

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The Drama League’s Annual Gala is the epitome of fun raising and fundraising for the theater industry’s early career directors. At the forefront of the organization are Gabriel Stelian Shanks, the Artistic Director since 2001; Bonnie Comley, the current President and a Board Member since 2009; and Bevin Ross, the Executive Director who arrived in 2019. A passionate triumvirate that led the 107-year-old non-profit out of the pandemic, a feat not accomplished by all arts institutions. That alone is worth celebrating, and these three leaders have managed to strike a balance between the seriousness of the recovery of live performance and throwing a blowout Black-tie party.

The annual gala is a formal affair honoring legendary theater professionals. Past honorees have included Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Chita Rivera, Steve Martin, Patti Lupone, Sutton Foster, Stewart F. Lane, and Wayne Brady. Since 2021, the gala has been rebranded “Embrace The Season,” and it is a one-night-only lineup of long-running shows along with sneak peeks of the new shows opening up. Mixing the Broadway mega-hits with future hits aims to amplify awareness and embrace the entire industry. Theater legends drop in to pay tribute to honorees in awe-inspiring performances, hysterical roasts, and heartfelt speeches. The Drama League Galas are the party you don’t want to miss.   

Embrace the Season will uplift the New York theatrical community this year by honoring the legendary Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards. Mr. Richards is currently represented on Broadway with the acclaimed revival of Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. Mr. Richards is celebrating five decades as a producer and publicist. His work has championed historically excluded artists, visionary new plays, and lauded revivals, including The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Sunday in the Park with George, Fiddler on the Roof, All The Way, Glengarry Glen Ross, Chinglish, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and many more. He has employed many of America's most noteworthy directors for these projects, including Drama League Directors Project alumni Alex Timbers, Diane Paulus, Sam Gold, Pam MacKinnon, Ari Edelson, and Michael Mayer.

Established in 1916, The Drama League is a non-profit organization that has played an integral role in shaping the theatrical landscape by providing support, education, and a platform for early career stage directors. The 45-year-old Directors Project is so successful that one-third of all the Broadway shows for the past ten years have been directed by alumni of the program.  With its rich history and ongoing commitment to the performing arts, the Drama League continues to be a vital force in the world of theater.

Drama League Directors have received 22 Tony Award Nominations and nine Tony Award Wins, 20 Obie Awards, and multiple Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody, Jefferson, Drama-Logue, Helen Hayes, NAACP, GLAAD, and Princess Grace Nominations and Awards, among other honors. Over 100 alumni are Artistic Leaders of theaters and production companies across the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Collectively directing approximately 1,000 productions each season, Drama League Directors work in every aspect of the arts and entertainment industries. They have transformed, entertained, and inspired millions around the world. And in November, they gather with Bonnie Comley, Bevin Ross, and Gabriel Stelain Shanks to embrace the talent, directors, and creatives that make live performance so magical. Its champagne toasts, singing, spectacle, and legendary: The Drama League Gala! 

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Bevin Ross, Gabriel Stelian Shanks, Bonnie Comley, Drama League Gala