Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2011 Theatre World Awards

Earlier this week, the recipients of the 2011 Theatre World Awards were announced, and I smiled, as I do every year.  They are probably my favorite awards of the season.  Why?  Simple.  They simply recognize brilliance.  There is no nomination process, no press brouhaha and blissfully little politics (though I can imagine the meetings where the winners are hammered out can get pretty lively, especially in a year where there are so many choices).

Since 1945, these awards have been presented to six actors and six actresses who during the theatre season have made their Broadway or off-Broadway debuts.  What is particularly nice is that the winners can be new, fresh faces or people who have had long, illustrious careers in film and television before taking the stage.  And the award is even open to replacement actors making their debut in a huge fashion. Both Reba McEntire - Annie Get Your Gun - and Fantasia Barrino - The Color Purple are recent winners who were replacements for former winners Bernadette Peters (George M!) and LaChanze (Once on this Island).  It is interesting to contemplate who has NOT made the list... Angela Lansbury, Joel Grey, Donna Murphy, Sutton Foster, Norbert Leo Butz and Idina Menzel, Broadway favorites and Tony winners all.  Still, the winners list reads like a who's who of American and international entertainment.

There are also two other awards given at the ceremony (this year's is on June 7th): The Dorothy Loudon "Starbaby" Award for Excellence and The Lunt-Fontanne Award for Ensemble Excellence.  This will be the third year for the former and the debut of the latter.  The Dorothy Loudon Award is given to an actor or actress that, while not necessarily making their debut, has made a significant contribution to acting that season.  This year's recipient is Seth Numrich of War Horse.  Last year, the award went to Bobby Steggert whose credits up to that point included 110 in the Shade, Ragtime and Yank! The first ever award went to Mary Louise O'Connor who also won a Theatre World Award that year for her debut in the revival of Blithe Spirit.  This year's first-ever Lunt-Fontanne Award will go to the cast of The Motherfucker with the Hat: Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Annabella Sciorra, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Yul Vasquez.

Ellen Barkin of The Normal Heart

This year's awards are given to a wide variety of actors.  Among those with long careers in film and television are Ellen Barkin and John Larroquette. Newbies include Rose Hemingway and Patina Miller.  And the international community is well represented by Tony Sheldon.  One recipient is the third in her family to earn this prestigious award: Grace Gummer, sister of Mamie Gummer and daughter of Meryl Streep.

For more information and to donate to this foundation go to:

And, finally, congratulations to this year's winners!

  • Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
  • Desmin Borges, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
  • Halley Feiffer, The House of Blue Leaves
  • Grace Gummer, Arcadia
  • Rose Hemingway, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Rose Hemingway and John Larroquette of How to Succeed in Business...

  • Heather Lind, The Merchant of Venice
  • Patina Miller, Sister Act
  • Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
  • Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
  • Zachary Quinto, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes
  • Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

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