Keen on the Keen Company

by Michael Gross Photographed by Kari Otero
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“There’s nothing better than giving money for art,” the actress Kathleen Chalfant was saying on Monday night at the Keen Company’s seventeenth annual gala, honoring Victoria Leacock Hoffman. “Some people have trouble with their Trump bump. We have a place for you!”

Actually, bidders were keen on three lots that were offered for sale at a live auction emceed by Chalfant before dinner was served, snapping up a trip to Tuscany, a trip to Broadway to see Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!, and the chance to host and be the writer or star at a reading of a play chosen by the bidder and performed by the troupe at Keen. It’s a non-profit, Off-Broadway theater company that has garnered nine Drama Desk nominations, two Drama Desk Awards, two Drama League Nominatiosn and two Obie Awards. Keen describes its mission as producing plays and intimate musicals, both revivals and new work, that provoke identification and emotional connections. Past standouts have included The Good Thief, starring the relative unknown, Brian D’Arcy James, Stephen Sondheim‘s Marry Me A Little, and last season, Boy by Anna Ziegler, starring Bobby Steggert, and the late Jonathan Larson’s tick tick…BOOM, a Drama Desk nominee for outstanding revival. Before his untimely death, Larson also wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Rent.

It was tick tick…BOOM that brought Victoria Leacock Hoffman into the Keen Company’s orbit. The daughter of documentarian Richard Leacock, she is a producer, writer and filmmaker herself, but is perhaps best known as a best friend and collaborator of Larson’s, intimately involved in developing his career and his shows, eventually producing several versions of tick tick…Boom! She also co-founded Love Heals and the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS education.

Joining her at the event, where she received the company’s first-ever Vision Award, were her friends the actress Molly Ringwald and Monica Lewinsky, Broadway star Amy Spanger, and the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of Proof, David Auburn, all of whom spoke or performed, as well as Marsha Mason, Carol Gertz, Fiona and Eric Rudin, the documentarians Marshall Curry and Eddie Rosenstein, and Seth Goldman.

“It was also Victoria Day in Canada,” the evening’s honoree joked. “But I’m staying right here because I’m keen on New York as well as Keen.”


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