At the Berkeley Repertory Theatre gala, Ovation: A Tribute to Tony Taccone, theater legends Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno paid homage to the Berkeley Rep’s outgoing artistic director of 22 years. The event, held at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco and hosted by Jonathan Moscone of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, was both star-studded and sold-out, raising a total of $1 million for the theater’s artistic pursuits.
Naturally, Moreno’s tribute to Taccone came in the form of song. She belted out “This Is All I Ask” by Gordon Jenkins in honor of the show that Taccone wrote for her, called Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup. The song served as its closing number. Other star sightings? Bob the Drag Queen, RuPaul’s Drag Race darling and underdog winner of season eight, gave an energetic performance. Taccone directed Bob the Drag Queen in the 2018 version of Angels in America, where the performer played the character Belize.
Between the live auction and paddle raise led by Dawnmarie Kotsonis, other guests toasted — and roasted — Taccone, namely, his sons Jorma and Asa. The entertainers poked fun at their dad’s leadership style. Susan Medak, Berkeley Rep’s managing director, followed suit, reflecting on the last two decades working alongside Taccone to make Berkeley Rep the internationally recognized theater it is today.
“We owe the success of the evening to our amazing gala committee, to the 475 friends who shared the evening with us and to our dedicated staff,” says Medak. “Everyone came out tonight to make sure Tony knew just how much we’ve appreciated his leadership.”