Meryl Streep has been tapped to receive the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's annual Monte Cristo award, given each year to a legit creative singled out for distinguished contributions to the theater.
Streep, who started out in theater before launching into film, has long stayed connected to the theater industry over the years, appearing in Shakespeare in the Park outings "Mother and Courage and her Children" (in 2006) and "The Seagull" (in 2001) and signing on as a presenting producer for the Broadway run of "Bridge and Tunnel" (in 2006). Last year she played Juliet opposite Kevin Kline's Romeo in the Public Theater's one-night-only reading of "Romeo and Juliet."
Actress joins a list of past Monte Cristo recipients including Michael Douglas, Christopher Plummer, Kevin Spacey and Brian Dennehy, among others.
The 14th annual award is handed out by the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., which oversees a number of prominent new-work development programs including the National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference, which together have yielded successful titles such as "In the Heights" and "Avenue Q" plus works by August Wilson and Wendy Wasserstein.
One of Streep's earliest acting gigs was at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in 1975, where she appeared in five play workshops in six weeks (pictured, above).
Streep will receive the Monte Cristo award -- to be presented to her by actor Joe Grifasi, another O'Neill alum who was also her classmate at the Yale School of Drama -- at an April 21 ceremony in Gotham.