(BOSTON) – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Tony Award-winning artist and Topdog/Underdog director Billy Porter will be honored with the Wimberly Award at the 2017 Spotlight Spectacular on Monday, April 24, 2017. The Huntington’s festive annual event raises money to support the Huntington’s programs, including its award-winning youth, education, and community initiatives that reach more than 30,000 annually.

“Mayor Walsh is deeply committed to the arts in Boston,” says Managing Director Michael Maso. “During his tenure, his office has worked to ensure that arts and culture remain a top priority in the city. Mayor Walsh played the critical role in helping the Huntington stay on Huntington Avenue and because of his leadership, the Huntington is now able to embark on a new chapter in its history. Everyone who cares about theatre in Boston and the Huntington’s role in our cultural community is in his debt. It is a privilege to be able to honor him at the Spotlight Spectacular.”

“Billy Porter directed a sizzling remount of George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum in 2015, and we will welcome him back this spring to direct Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog,” says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “Billy has proven that he is a man of boundless talent. We are delighted to honor Billy’s work at the Huntington and his many contributions to the American theatre community in April.”

Designed by Rafanelli Events, the lights come up at 6pm at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts and will feature a cocktail reception, a live auction offering one-of-a-kind items, a seated dinner provided by Max Ultimate Food, the presentation of the Wimberly Awards, and entertainment. The Gerard & Sherryl Cohen Award for Excellence will be given to two Huntington staff members who consistently go above and beyond in their contribution to the company. Guests will also have the opportunity to “Sponsor a Class” in support of the Huntington’s student matinee program and other education initiatives. Additional funds to support the Huntington will be raised through an online auction that will run from April 7 – 28, 21017.

For more information about the event or to sponsor a table or purchase tickets, contact Kirsten Doyle at 617 273 1503 or

The 2016 Spotlight Spectacular honored Wimberly Award recipient Board Chairman Carol G. Deane. The event raised over $1,000,000 and was attended by over 400 guests. Entertainment was provided by the all-star cast from the Huntington’s hit production of A Little Night Music, including performances by Haydn Gwynne (Billy Elliot on Broadway), Stephen Bogardus (God of Carnage), Lauren Molina (Candide), Mike McGowan (The Producers on Broadway), and Bobbie Steinbach (Dead End). This year’s celebration promises to be another unforgettable evening.

Billy Porter is the 2013 Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Lola in the Best Musical Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots. His one-man show Ghetto Superstar (2005 GLAAD Media Award nomination, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Performer of the Year 2003–2004) debuted at The Public Theater in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh. He was recently seen on Broadway in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. His directing credits include The Colored Museum at the Huntington; CompanyHAM: A Musical Memoir with Sam Harris; The WizBeing Alive: The Soul of SondheimTwilight In ManchegoOnce on This Island (NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction); The Soul of Richard RodgersFive Guys Named MoeAltar BoyzRent (Associate Director, Off Broadway revival); Patina Miller Live at The Delfonte Room (London); and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder (starring Chaka Khan). His Broadway album, Billy’s Back on Broadway (Concord Records) was released in April of 2014. His new album, Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers will be released in April of 2017. As a playwright, he was represented Off Broadway last fall with the premiere of While I Yet Live starring S. Epatha Merkerson (Primary Stages). A Pittsburgh native, he received his BFA in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a graduate of UCLA’s professional program in screenwriting.

Martin J. Walsh, a lifelong champion of working people and a proud product of the City of Boston, was sworn in as the city’s 54th mayor on January 6, 2014. Mayor Walsh’s vision is of a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston — a city with equality and opportunity for all, where a revolutionary history inspires creative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. Since taking office, Mayor Walsh has focused on strengthening Boston’s schools, adding hundreds of high-quality pre-kindergarten seats, funding extended learning time and advanced curriculum at more schools, and securing tuition-free community college for Boston Public Schools graduates. The Mayor has led Boston to the forefront of the global innovation economy, by attracting industry-leading private sector employers, upgrading the city’s digital infrastructure, and using technology to transform government services — from a parking meter payment app to a new City website. At the same time, he has created powerful tools for low-income workers, including a “learn and earn” job apprenticeship program and an Office of Financial Empowerment. He is the founding vice-chair of the Cities of Opportunity Task Force at the US Conference of Mayors, elevating the national conversation on income inequality. The Walsh Administration has addressed the tremendous need for housing in the city with an ambitious plan, setting records for new affordable and middle-class homes. In addition, it has built a state-of- the-art homeless shelter and gotten the city on a path to effectively ending chronic homelessness. The Administration has been hailed by the White House for expanding young people’s opportunities and breaking new ground in crime prevention and police-community relations. Other milestones include the nation’s first municipal Office of Recovery Services to prevent and treat substance abuse; the city’s first Cultural Plan in a generation, to restore Boston’s identity as an arts leader; and, in a sign of strong fiscal management and economic policy, the city’s first perfect AAA bond ratings, unlocking unprecedented investments in parks, libraries, and public safety. Finally, the Mayor has invited the people of Boston to help build a blueprint for the city’s future in Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide plan in half a century. Before taking office, Mayor Walsh served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he was a leader on job creation and worker protections; substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness; K-12 education; and civil rights. He played a key role defending Massachusetts’ pioneering stand on marriage equality. Mayor Walsh also made his mark as a labor leader. After following his father into Laborers Local 223 in Boston, he rose to head the Building and Construction Trades Council from 2011 to 2013. He worked with business and community leaders to promote high-quality development, and he created a program called Building Pathways that has become a model for increasing diversity in the workplace and providing good career opportunities for women and people of color. Born and raised in the neighborhood of Dorchester by immigrant parents, Mayor Walsh is driven to make sure Boston is a city where anyone can overcome their challenges and fulfill their dreams. As a child, Mayor Walsh survived a serious bout of Burkett’s lymphoma, thanks to the extraordinary care he received at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His recovery from alcoholism as a young adult led to his lifelong commitment to the prevention and treatment of addiction. And while working full-time as a legislator, he returned to school to earn a degree in Political Science at Boston College. Mayor Walsh continues to reside in Dorchester, where he shares his life with longtime partner Lorrie Higgins.

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A limited number of tickets are available for media members interested in covering the event. Contact Desiree Barry at or 617 273 1518 for information.

Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. The Huntington is the recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and was named Best of Boston 2013 and 2014 by Boston magazine. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit

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