She’s performed in Broadway musicals, produced one and generally championed them for years. Now Rosie O’Donnell is being honored by the Tony Awards.
USA TODAY has learned that the multitasking media personality will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award at this year’s Tonys ceremony, set to air live on CBS June 8. The award is presented each year to honor the efforts of a member of the theater community for work on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.
O’Donnell is being recognized for her commitment to arts education for New York City’s public school students, through the non-profit Rosie’s Theater Kids. Launched as Rosie’s Broadway Kids in 2003, by Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation, RTKids offers training in music, dance and drama to children who might not otherwise have access to it.
Programs include PS Broadway, an in-school service for fifth graders; ACTE (A Commitment to Excellence) II, a scholarship program that provides free after-school classes for outstanding graduates of PS Broadway; and A+ (Arts Plus), which furnishes supplementary tools to enhance the academic achievement of A+ students at the secondary level.
In a joint statement, Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theater Wing said that O’Donnell “exemplifies the spirit and the generosity of the Broadway community through her ‘pay it forward’ mentality within the arts community and beyond. Rosie constantly works to make our world a better place, and unconditional generosity like hers deserves great recognition.”
O’Donnell’s Broadway performance credits include revivals of “Grease” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” as well as the 2000 musical “Seussical,” in which she was a 2001 replacement for “The Cat In the Hat.” She was also a lead producer on “Taboo,” a 2003 musical scored by Boy George.
By Elysa Gardner