Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express
Feb. 15 – Mar. 18
Adapted for the Stage by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Emily Mann
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Production Sponsor Spotlight
An Interview with Jill Hutensky Senior Vice President, Hartford Market Manager – Enterprise Business and Community Engagement for Bank of America
By Nicholas Denninger, Development Apprentice
Bank of America has a generous giving history with Hartford Stage. How did it begin?
My records date back to 1994; so if we did before that, I don’t know. I know over that time frame, we’ve given extensively to Hartford Stage. More importantly, I’m proud of the balance that we’ve done. Hartford Stage won our Neighborhood Builder Award, which was a $200,000 grant that came with leadership training for the Executive Director. It’s an unrestricted grant. Every year, the award goes to one organization in one of Bank of America’s 45 communities. We provide training and resources to build capacity for that organization and give them the leadership training and the money to be able to do things in a different way. We’re really proud of that because we believe that institutions are centerpieces in their communities. They drive a lot of local development and local economies, so it’s an honor for an organization to win that.
We’ve also sponsored several productions – including The Bluest Eye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Rear Window – as well as several education programs. I love the fact that we’ve done a little bit of everything with Hartford Stage. It’s given us an opportunity to help develop the Stage in different ways as opposed to doing just production sponsorships.
Why did you choose to sponsor Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express? What about the production excites you?
We were really interested in Emily Mann and Ken Ludwig’s adaptation. Emily’s such a legend, and the show met with such acclaim before it got here. Ken’s such an amazing playwright. With this being a new stage adaptation, it was interesting to us. It’s also one of the most beloved mystery novels of all time; of all Agatha Christie’s works, it’s even one of her top 10 favorites, so we were very attracted to see how it could be done on stage. These things made the play rise to the top in terms of public appeal, and we know that these things also drive sales. To be associated with a successful production and something we think our employees would love to go see and that we think people can understand and that has a wide appeal, was also of interest to me personally.
How does giving to Hartford Stage fit into Bank of America’s philanthropic goals? Why is giving to Hartford Stage important to you?
Bank of America has a long history of supporting the arts. It reflects our belief that we have that the arts matter. The arts in general help economies thrive, they help individuals connect with each other across cultures, and they also educate and enrich society. Across the country and around the world, we support thousands of arts and culture institutions. We believe they provide inspiration and educational sustenance. We believe they anchor communities and create jobs, complement school curricula, and generate revenue for local businesses. As a bank, we can only be as successful as the communities in which we live and work, and we can only be as successful as our clients can be. We understand that if our communities don’t work, there’s no need for our services. We spend a lot of time and effort in community development in cities and we’re located in Hartford. We’ve been a long-term supporter of Hartford Stage, and we hope to be able to continue to do that.