Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site (Museum, Theatre, Petersen House) and the Center for Education and Leadership will be closed to the public on Monday, May 19, 2014.

FORD’S THEATRE SOCIETY HOSTED ANNUAL GALA SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2013

Program Featured Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
Basketball Legend Bill Russell Received Lincoln Medals

First Responders from Boston, MA; West, TX and Newtown, CT
Honored in Special Tribute

Human Rights Advocates Judy and Dennis Shepard Honored
in Lincoln Legacy Project Tribute

Appearances by Host Richard Thomas, Broadway’s Heidi Blickenstaff,
Acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves, Tony-Winner Brian Stokes Mitchell,
Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio from ABC’s Nashville,
Eric Stonestreet from ABC’s Modern Family, and others

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, members of Congress and other distinguished guests attended the Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala the evening of Sunday, June 2, 2013, at Ford’s Theatre (511 10th Street NW). The gala performance was followed by a seated dinner at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (750 Ninth Street NW). The evening included the presentation of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal to former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Basketball Hall of Fame honoree Bill Russell, two individuals whose extraordinary character, accomplishments and work reflect Lincoln’s legacy of leadership, service, wisdom and vision.

Secretary Rice, host Richard Thomas and performers Heidi Blickenstaff, Denyce Graves, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Eric Stonestreet honored four first responders who reacted with remarkable bravery in our nation’s recent times of crisis:
Sergeant David Kullgren, Newtown Police Department, Connecticut
Douglas S. Fuchs, Redding Police Department, Connecticut
Matt Patterson, Lynn Fire Department, Massachusetts     
Robert Payne, West Volunteer Fire Department, Texas

Eric Stonestreet also presented a moving tribute to Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of a gay college student Matthew Shepard who was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The couple was recognized for their extraordinary ability to transform their tremendous personal loss into an opportunity to inspire change through The Matthew Shepard Foundation. This fall, Ford’s Theatre presents a stage production of The Laramie Project, a series of powerful personal accounts based on the community’s reaction to Matthew’s death. The play is presented as part of the Ford’s Theatre multi-year Lincoln Legacy Project, an effort to generate dialogue around issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance.

Additional highlights from the Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala included Denyce Graves performing Ave Maria and Bridge Over Troubled Water; Brian Stokes Mitchell singing Don’t Rain on my Parade and You’ll Never Walk Alone; Heidi Blickenstaff performing New York, New York; and performances by ABC Nashville’s Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio of When the Right One Comes Along and Fade into You. The gala program at Ford’s Theatre also included a tap sequence led by Omar Edwards, John and Leo Manzari and Luke Spring, and a rousing performance of Make Our Garden Grow from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide by Denyce Graves, Brian Stokes Mitchell and the Ford’s Theatre Gala Company.

First Lady Michelle Obama served as the honorary chair of the gala celebration. Honorary co-chairs were Mrs. Landra Reid, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Mrs. Cynthia Rogers, Mrs. Deborah I. Dingell, Dr. Sharon Malone and Mrs. Catherine B. Reynolds.

The Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala benefits the Ford’s Theatre Society and its programming, including exhibits at the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership (opened February 2012). This event is made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor General Dynamics and American Airlines, the official airline of Ford’s Theatre. Ford’s Theatre gratefully acknowledges Gloria Story Dittus and Story Partners for their support of the 2013 Lincoln Medal Presentation.

Lincoln Medal
The Lincoln Medal is an annual award given by the Ford’s Theatre Society to a person or persons who, through their body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy, and mettle of character embodied by the most beloved President in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln. Past recipients of the Lincoln Medal include Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel; human rights activists Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Justice Albie Sachs; filmmaker George Lucas; actors Ruby Dee, Morgan Freeman and Sidney Poitier; Dr. Maya Angelou; Congressman John Lewis; singer Aretha Franklin; and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Former Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court.            

Ford’s Theatre Society
One of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital, Ford’s Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in the nation’s capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.

The Ford’s Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producer Frankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford’s as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theatregoing public have recognized Ford’s for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith and Necessary Sacrifices, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. Under the leadership of Wayne R. Reynolds, Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus (Chairman 2007 to 2012), the mission of Ford’s Theatre Society expanded to include education as a central pillar. This expansion led to the creation and construction of the Center for Education and Leadership, which opened in February 2012. Currently, under the leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Eric A. Spiegel, Ford’s enters a second phase of strategic planning to ensure the organization’s place as a national destination for exploring Lincoln’s legacy and the American experience through the intersection of history, performance and education.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Beyea at lbeyea@fords.org