Working from a home base 3,000 miles from NYC, Jack O'Brien has nevertheless been able to establish himself as one of Broadway's hottest directors. As the artistic director of the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, one of America's preeminent regional theaters, O'Brien has brought some hot ticket items to the Main Stem lately, including Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, which won the 2000 Tony for Best Play; the musical The Full Monty, nominated for 10 Tonys that season; and the runaway musical hit of this season, Hairspray. His next Broadway venture, Imaginary Friends, opens at the Barrymore Theatre on December 12. Prior to that, on December 2, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation will present O'Brien with its "Mr. Abbott" Award for his "extraordinary lifetime achievement in the American Theatre."
Prior recipients of the award include George Abbott (for whom it is named), Michael Bennett, Agnes DeMille, Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, Trevor Nunn, Harold Prince, Susan Stroman, Tommy Tune, and Jerry Zaks. This year's festivities will take place at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers (West 23rd Street at the Hudson River), beginning promptly at 8:30pm. Naturally, any event that celebrates a master director must feature a well directed show as its centerpiece: Choreographer Jerry Mitchell, O'Brien's collaborator on The Full Monty, Hairspray, and Imaginary Friends, will be in charge of that aspect of the celebration. Unlike past years, when ceremonies were strictly limited to members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, the foundation will allow other theater professionals to attend.
Tickets are priced at $25 and $50, with the latter price including a $25 tax-deductible donation to the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, the only national organization dedicated to supporting theatrical directors and choreographers across the nation. Table packages are also available -- including tickets to a VIP reception, dinner, and the show -- beginning at $500. To purchase tickets, theater professionals should send their order with their name, phone number, e-mail address, proof of theatrical union affiliation, and a check or money order to SDC Foundation, 1501 Broadway, Suite 1701, New York, N.Y. 10036. Orders must be placed by November 25 and will be confirmed by telephone or e-mail.