The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons announced the winner of the Mark O'Donnell Prize, Leah Nanako Winkler, at a dedication ceremony at the Mark O’Donnell Theater at The Actors Fund Arts Center on October 25.
Winkler is the first winner of the annual prize, which is awarded by the Actors Fund in collaboration with Playwrights Horizons and presented to an emerging theater artist in recognition of her or his talent and promise. The Mark O'Donnell Theater is a state-of-the-art black box theater and arts center located at the Schermerhorn in Downtown Brooklyn and was renamed at yesterday’s dedication in honor of the playwright and humorist.
Mark O'Donnell achieved commercial success when he cowrote the book of the musical Hairspray, based on the John Waters film, with Thomas Meehan. The production earned the pair the 2003 Tony Award and a celebrated seven-year run on Broadway, followed by the 2007 musical film adaptation. As previously announced, Stephen O'Donnell has donated his late twin brother Mark O'Donnell’s royalties as co-writer of the Broadway musical Hairspray in perpetuity to the Actors Fund, in support of their addiction and recovery services to members of the entertainment and performing arts community.