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January 6th, 2005

Stella by Starlight Gala

by John Wegorzewski and Edward Callaghan

It was an extraordinary triumvirate of American genius that was celebrated at the 3rd Annual, Stella by Starlight Gala, benefiting the world famous Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner was honored with the Jacob Adler Award for courageous contribution to Jewish and American culture presented by Mike Nichols. The legendary Arthur Miller was given the Group Theater Award for prolific achievement in theater, television and film and commitment to social justice. Unable to attend due to illness, Miller was well represented by his daughter director/writer Rebeccca Miller Day Lewis.

The late Marlon Brando, surely one of Stella’s most gifted pupils, was posthumously honored with the award named for his late teacher and mentor Stella Adler. Warren Beatty, who has succeeded Brando as honorary chairman of The Studio, accepted the award on his behalf and immediately presented it to Marlon’s son, Miko Brando.

Although the ballroom was filled to overflow with the leading lights in theater, film and literature, the spirit of Brando, Adler, Harold Clurman and, indeed, The Group Theater infused evening’s proceedings. Co-chairmen Mike Medavoy and Roy Scheider pulled out all the stops to make this a memorable and historic evening.

Highlights of the evening included: Whoopi Goldberg’s delightful, somewhat starstruck reminiscences of her first encounters with Brando; a sizzling musical tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb, directed by Gordon Hunt and Scheider with show stopping performances by Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett and Marin Mazzie; and a video tribute focusing on a very young Marlon Brando at the outset of his career.

Ed Callaghan and John Wegorzewski, alchmyst@msn.com

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