The event supports the theater’s mission to produce original, quality work and raises funds for its award-winning education and community engagement programs. The programs bring live theater to more than 15,000 disadvantaged youth, seniors and veterans annually.
Blending unscripted, surprise performances and storytellers sharing songs and personal tales of life behind the scenes, the Geffen gala is not a typical fundraising effort. This year’s edition will be held in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse and hosted for the second time by Aisha Tyler. Last year’s gala raised more than $1 million, allowing the Geffen to expand its literacy, high school, veterans and Lights Up programs.
“Dick Van Dyke has brought joy and entertainment to the world for more than 60 years, and in the last decade, Lin-Manuel Miranda has inspired millions of people with his work. In addition to their unparalleled contributions to the arts, Dick and Lin-Manuel share a commitment to young people and a belief in the power of live storytelling to inform and inspire audiences around the world,” said Geffen Playhouse Executive Director Gil Cates Jr., who produces the show with board member Kevin Bright. “We are thrilled to bring these brilliant artists and philanthropists to the Geffen stage for another surprising Backstage event.”
Van Dyke will receive the Distinction in Theater Award. His decades-long career, from his eponymous black-and-white sitcom through more recent work like Diagnosis: Murder and appearances in the Night at the Museum films, has netted him five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy, among other honors.
Miranda and Van Dyke will appear together in Disney’s planned Christmas release, Mary Poppins Returns. The Hamilton and In the Heights creator and star is receiving the Education Impact Award at the gala. Miranda’s other credits include Bring It On: The Musical and the 2009 revival of West Side Story, plus songs for Disney animated hit Moana and a host of TV acting appearances on everything from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Sesame Street.