The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center honored multi-discipline creative artist Lin-Manuel Miranda with the 18th Monte Cristo Award, last night at a private dinner at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. An alumnus of the O’Neill, Miranda’s first professional production was at the O’Neill’s National Music Theater Conference with In The Heights in 2005. The gala dinner featured a conversation with the honoree and raised $575,000 to support the Center’s commitment to developing new work and new artists for the stage.
The O’Neill annually bestows its Monte Cristo Award on a prominent theater artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theater, in memory of its namesake.
The evening featured performances of some of Miranda’s work – including a performance of “It Won’t Be Long Now,” from In the Heights, by Karen Olivo, Perry Young, and Mateo Ferro as well as a performance of “I’m Out,” by Anthony Ramos. Hamilton stars and O’Neill alumni Javier Munoz and Christopher Jackson performed “One Last Time.” Alex Lacamoire was the evening’s music director and lead a band of musicians from the Broadway orchestras of In the Heights and Hamilton. The highlight of the evening was when actress Lindsay Menez led an “In Conversation” with Miranda who discussed his time at the O’Neill, how theatre will always be close to his heart, hir writing process, his continued work with Puerto Rico and the importance of “finding your crew.”
Lin also discussed the scholarship that he and his family set-up for students of color to attend the O’Neill’s undergraduate training program, the National Theater Institute. “It’s important to me because I had such an amazing time the O’Neill,” said Miranda. “Not just as a writer, because I had time to work on IN THE HEIGHTS, but seeing the experience the interns had, the experience all the students around us had, Watching as they went from amazing playwright to amazing playwright, soaking up the workshop process of their lives, I said, this is what we need, the notion of access and really being a part of art as it’s being created. I think that’s the goal. Access and opportunities, that’s what we’re trying to fund.”
Javier Munoz presented Miranda with the Monte Cristo Award. It was at the O’Neill that Javier and Lin first met.
Additional guests included: Michael Douglas, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alexander Gemignani, Christopher Jackson, Alex Lacamoire, Judith Light, Adam Kantor, John McDaniel, Lindsay Mendez, Karen Olivo, Betsy Wolfe, Tom Kitt, Heidi Blickenstaff, and others.
The chairs for the conversation were provided by O’Neill alumna and set director for THE GOOD FIGHT Beth Kushnick (NTI fall ’80).. They are the RBL chair from her home decor line for THE GOOD FIGHT in collaboration with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarks, “Lin-Manuel’s pioneering spirit continues to transform the American theater landscape since he first launched and developed his In The Heights at the O’Neill in 2005, and through every endeavor he undertakes. Not since Eugene O’Neill has there been someone who so firmly plants American theater in the cultural landscape of this nation, and worldwide. We are delighted to recognize him with our 2017 Monte Cristo Award.”
It was also announced that the O’Neill has named the newly-built studio in the Jim & Jane Henson Rehearsal Hall , the “Lin-Manuel Miranda Studio.”
This past May, The Miranda Family Fund announced their commitment to provide scholarships for artists of color to attend the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute. NTI’s credit-earning theater intensives—taught by industry professionals and master teachers—train actors, singers, directors, dancers, designers, playwrights, and composers to produce, write, direct, and act in their own work, as well as create their own path in the industry. NTI is a pipeline to the profession – and with this partnership, The Miranda Family Fund and NTI will further the inclusion of artists of color across all disciplines of theater.
For more information on the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center visit: www.theoneill.org
About the Honoree:
Lin-Manuel Miranda is an award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer, as well as a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award recipient. His current musical, Hamilton – with book, music and lyrics by Mr. Miranda, in addition to him originating the title role – opened on Broadway in 2015. Hamilton was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and earned a record-breaking 16 Tony Nominations, winning 11 Tony Awards including two personally for Mr. Miranda for Book and Score of a Musical. The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton won the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Mr. Miranda’s and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ first Broadway musical, In the Heights, received four 2008 Tony Awards (including Best Orchestrations, Best Choreography and Best Musical), with Miranda receiving a Tony Award for Best Score, as well as a nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. In the Heights also took home a 2009 Grammy Award for its Original Broadway Cast Album and was recognized as a Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. In 2016, Miranda won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for the Original London production of In The Heights. In The Heights was developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference in 2005.
Mr. Miranda is the co-composer (with Tom Kitt), and co-lyricist (with Amanda Green) of Broadway’s Bring it On: The Musical (2013 Tony Nom., Best Musical, 2013 Drama Desk Nom., Best Lyrics). He contributed new songs to the revival of Stephen Schwartz’ Working and Spanish translations for the 2009 Broadway Revival of West Side Story. In 2014, Mr. Miranda received an Emmy Award with Tom Kitt for their song, “Bigger” from the 67th Annual Tony Awards. Mr. Miranda contributed music, lyrics and vocals to several songs in Disney’s feature film Moana which earned 2 Oscar nominations in 2017, including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for Mr Miranda’s, “How Far I’ll Go.”
Mr. Miranda played Charlie Kringas in the 2012 City Center Encores! production of Merrily We Roll Along and can be heard on the 2012 Cast Recording released by PS Classics. He also appeared in the 2014 City Center Encores! Off-Center production of tick, tick… BOOM! as Jonathan. Mr. Miranda is a co-founder and member of Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop improv group. TV/Film credits: The Electric Company, Sesame Street, The Sopranos, House, Modern Family, Polar Bears, Do No Harm, Smash, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Amy Schumer, Difficult People, Hamilton’s America, Saturday Night Live (Emmy nomination. Guest Actor), Drunk History, DuckTales, BoJack Horseman, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, 200 Cartas, Speech and Debate, and Moana. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2002. He lives in NYC with his wife, son and dog.