The Ensemble Studio Theatre honors two of its most distinguished members, the acclaimed actress Lois Smith and two-time Board chair G.H. "Denny" Denniston, Jr with its 2012 Distinguished Member Award at a "Fun-Raiser" benefit celebration this evening, May 14.
EST will celebrate its honorees during the "Lois and Denny Hour." Inspired by "The Johnny Carson Show," the show will be hosted by Peter Maloney, with his sidekick Tyrone (the devil sock puppet from Hand to God) played by Steve Boyer, the EST-V "house band" composed of EST member musicians, with special guests in attendance including Kathryn Erbe (Law and Order), Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes) , John Guare, the cast of Amy Herzog's After the Revolution, Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities), David Rasche, Carolyn Cantor and others.
Lois Smith hails from Topeka, Kansas. Her first role on Broadway was as Melvyn Douglas's teenage daughter in Time Out for Ginger which she followed with The Young And Beautiful, Blues For Mr. Charlie, and the original production of Orpheus Descending. She was nominated for a Tony for her performances in The Grapes Of Wrath directed by Frank Galati and Buried Child directed by Gary Sinise. A longtime member of the EST, she has played in many one-act play marathons, particularly in plays by Romulus Linney, and The Man Who Climbed The Pecan Trees by Horton Foote. In 2005 – 2006, Ms. Smith played Carrie Watts in Horton Foote's The Trip To Bountiful at Signature Theatre, for which she received five awards: an Obie, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and the Kingsley-Evans Award. Most recently she was seen in Playwrights Horizons production of After the Revolution by Amy Herzog and Tony Kushner's The Illusion at Signature Theatre.
Former Eagle Scout Denny Denniston grew up in Mobile, Alabama. He moved to New York City for a 40 year career in banking where he was a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank, an Executive Vice President at NationAl Westminster Bank USA, a Senior Vice President at the Bank of New York and General Manager in charge of the New York Branch of the United Bank for Africa. In 1981 he joined the board of The Ensemble Studio Theatre and six months later became its chairman for the next ten years. While he continued on the Board and to provide financial counsel, he became treasurer in 2004 and was again elected chairman in 2007, serving through this year.
The Ensemble Studio Theatre was founded on the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. Through its unique collaborative process it develops and produces original, provocative and authentic new plays that engage and challenge its audience and audiences across the country. The Ensemble Studio Theatre's award-winning membership comprises 562 artists and ranges from distinguished, recognizable playwrights (Annie Baker, Jon Robin Baitz), performers (Lois Smith, David Rasche, William Jackson Harper) and directors (Pamela Berlin, José Zayas) to new talent. In 2009, EST was ranked #1 in NYC and #2 nationally by playwrights of note for its dedication to producing new plays (Theatre Development Fund's study Outrageous Fortune by Todd London and Ben Pesner). The company has presented over 6,500 plays since its founding in 1968.