The Tony award-winning Eugene O?Neill Theater Center will hold its 6th Annual Summer Gala on Saturday, July 21, in the Sunken Garden on the theater?s grounds. The evening will begin at 6:00pm with cocktails and silent auction, followed by dinner and special program featuring longtime friend of the O'Neill, stage and film actor Charles S. ?Roc? Dutton. The annual gala benefits the O?Neill?s year-round activities, dedicated to discovering and developing new work and voices for the American stage.
As a young man, Roc played principal roles in premiers of many August Wilson plays developed at the O?Neill?s National Playwrights Conference. Since then, he has performed to acclaim with received Tony nominations for his work in The Piano Lesson and Ma Rainey?s Black Bottom and Emmy nominations for roles on ?The Practice,? and ?Without a Trace.? He has also received recognition from the NAACP with a 1993 Image Award nomination and a 1992 Award for his lead role in the critically acclaimed comedy/drama series ?ROC,? where he also served as Executive Producer.
In a recent interview with National Public Radio about his career and time at the O?Neill, Dutton recalls:
The first time I came to the O'Neill it was like walking through the gates of Theatre Heaven. Never before had I experienced such a sense of artistic comradery. You could feel it, taste it, it was in the air. A strong, wonderful atmosphere. Healthy. Vibrant. A committed group of actors, directors, administrators and staff all there for one purpose.... To serve the playwright and the play! That work. Those moments. Those times I will keep in the sacred chambers of my heart forever. I am honored to give support to this organization.
The interview on The Faith Middleton Show airs Thursday, June 28 at 3pm and 9pm on the following public broadcasting networks: WPKT Norwich/New London (89.1 FM); WNPR-FM Hartford/New Haven (90.5 FM); WEDW Stamford/Greenwich (88.5 FM); WRLI Southampton, NY (91.3 FM).
This year's distinguished Honorary Committee includes close friends and colleagues of Dutton and the O?Neill, includingWhoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance, James Bundy, Pat and Jim Calhoun, Carolyn Greenspan andMarshall Ruben, Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Kim Magloire and Charles Nafie, Sara and Douglas Mercer, Dyanne andJohn Rafal, Pat Daily, O?Neill Chairman Thomas Viertel, and Betsy and George White
O?Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked, ?When Charles approached the O?Neill about performing at our Annual Gala benefit, I was delighted and honored. His time spent in Waterford harkens to an important time in the O?Neill?s history, and an important role American theatrical history. I look forward to a wonderful celebration of his ?homecoming? to the O?Neill.?