73rd Annual Theatre World Award Honorees Announced
for June 5. Glenn Close to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honor
By: Ellis Nassour
The annual Theatre World Awards (TWA) is one of the most anticipated events of theater season’s end – and one of immense joy as actors – young to older – making their Broadway debuts are honored for their standout performances. In what has become an often touching tradition, 12 previous winners serve as presenters, and often relive moments from past ceremonies and share tales rarely heard at award shows.
The 73rd Theatre World Awards will be held June 5 at the Imperial Theatre, home to Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, recipient of 12 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical and four Drama Desk Awards. The musical also received five DD nominations, including Outstanding Musical, for its 2015 Off Broadway run. Returning as host is theater journalist, author, and raconteur Peter Filichia.
There’s no campaigning or even an iota of suspense since there are no nominations. Honorees are announced in advance.
The Awards were founded in 1945 by John Willis, the late editor-in-chief of Theatre World and its companion volume, Screen World. They are the oldest awards given for Outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway debut performances.
Being recognized by the TWA selection committee will be 12 actors – six male, six female, who’ve made an impact with their Broadway or Off Broadway debuts.
In addition, there will be special honors: Glenn Close, making her return to Broadway recreating her iconic role as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton’s Sunset Boulevard., will receive the fifth annual John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater, which recognizes “an individual whose lifetime achievements and personal generosity to the theater community merit special recognition and acknowledgement.”
During the recent Spring drive for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Ms. Close and the Sunset Boulevard cast really beat the drums, rallying audiences to donate a whopping $509, 246 in six weeks – becoming the Top Overall Fundraiser (Musicals).
Katrina Lenk (Indecent, The Band’s Visit) has been selected to receive the ninth annual Dorothy Loudon Award, for Excellence in the Theater. She appeared on Broadway in Once, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and The Miracle Worker.
The Award is named in honor of the beloved, late Tony and Drama Desk-winning actress (original Annie), who won a TWA in 1963 when co-starring in and stealing the, sadly, short-lived Sol Berkowitz and James Lipton musical No Where to Go But Up, directed by Sidney Lumet. She went on to triumph in Noises Off, Westside Waltz, and Ballroom. Her appearances on the Tony Awards were showstoppers.
The recipient is chosen from recommendations from the Theatre World Awards Committee and by trustees of The Dorothy Loudon Foundation, of which veteran theatrical agent Lionel Larner is executive director. In addition to funding arts programs, the Foundation has supported the disadvantaged, AIDS research related charities, and disaster-relief programs.
Dave Molloy (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) will be honored with a Special Theatre World Award in recognition of his Broadway debut as composer, writer, lyricist, orchestrator, and actor.
The honorees for outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway debut performance are Carlo Albán (Sweat), Christy Altomare (Anastasia), Denée Benton (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon), Barrett Doss (Groundhog Day), Amber Gray (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Josh Groban (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Lucas Hedges (Yen), Raymond Lee (Vietgone), Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon), Jeremy Secomb (Sweeney Todd), and Cobie Smulders (Present Laughter).
The TWAs, “presented annually at the end of the theater season to recognize significant, reviewable, debut performances in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production,” are produced by the organization’s board (Dale Badway, president).
The Selection Committee comprised David Cote (Time Out, NY1), Joe Dziemianowicz (NY Daily News), Filichia (Newark Star-Ledger, emeritus), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (Talkin’ Broadway), Frank Scheck (Hollywood Reporter), and Roma Torre (NY1).
Other board members are: Tom Lynch (VP), Stephen Wilde (Secretary), Tabitha Falcone (Treasurer), and Michael Kostel.
Julie Andrews, Alec Baldwin, Anne Bancroft, Marlon Brando, Zoe Caldwell, Tom Hanks, Rosemary Harris, James Earl Jones, Audra McDonald, Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Plummer, Chita Rivera, and Meryl Streep are among a long list of previous honorees.
Follow the Theatre World Awards on Facebook, on Twitter at @TWAwards, and at www.theatreworldawards.org.