Drama Desk To Present Special Award to The Public Theater on May 22

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Drama Desk Awards, the organization has voted to present a special award to The Public Theater, also celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2005, it was announced today by William Wolf, President of the Drama Desk, and Barbara Siegel, Chairperson of its Nominating Committee.

The citation reads: "In celebration of the 50th anniversary of its awards, The Drama Desk is presenting a special Drama Desk Award to The Public Theater for its 50 years of exceptional contributions to the theatre."

The award will be formally presented at the 50th Annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony on Sunday, May 22, at 9:00 PM in the F.H. LaGuardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center. Other Drama Desk Awards honoring outstanding work in various categories of achievement in the theatre will be made public at that time. Harvey Fierstein, starring as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, will host the event.

Founded a half century ago as The Shakespeare Workshop by the visionary Joseph Papp, The Public Theater has since grown into the cultural force it is today. Its present headquarters on Lafayette Street, the former Astor Library, opened in 1967 with the world premiere of the musical Hair. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is the home of its free Shakespeare productions.

The Drama Desk, an association of New York drama critics, editors and journalists writing on theatre in New York, was founded in 1949. Its first awards were given for the 1954-55 season. It has the distinction of being the only professional theatre organization considering all sectors of the New York theatre, including Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway and non-profit theatre, as equal competitors for its honors.

The special award to The Public Theater was designated on behalf of the Drama Desk by its nominating committee, which includes: Barbara Siegel, TheaterMania.com and the Siegel Entertainment Syndicate, chairperson; William Wolf, wolfentertainmentguide.com; Andy Buck, Playbill; Michael Buckley, Playbill On-Line; Christopher Byrne, Gay City News; Andrew Propst, American Theater Web; and Richard Ridge, Broadway Beat TV.

Drama Desk nominations for the 2004-2005 season will be announced on Thursday, April 28, at 10 AM at the New York Friars Club by Lynn Redgrave, in rehearsal for The Roundabout Theater Company's production of The Constant Wife, and Robert Goulet, co-starring in La Cage Aux Folles. Some 140 voting members will then be asked to submit ballots with their choices, and the ballots will be tabulated by the Drama Desk accountant Stuart F. Margulis, SFM Management, Ltd.

Nominees will receive their official Nomination Certificates at a Reception on Tuesday, May 3, 2005, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, at Arte Cafe, 106 West 73rd Street in Manhattan, home of the Drama Desk Art*Kives.

The Board of Directors of the Drama Desk is composed of: William Wolf, President; Leslie (Hoban) Blake, Vice President; Charles Wright, Treasurer and Second Vice President; Joyce Hauser, Secretary; and Michael Bracken, David Kaufman, Ellis Nassour, Sam Norkin, Barbara Siegel, and Elyse Sommer.

Robert R. Blume is Executive Producer of the 50th Annual Drama Desk Awards. Lauren Class Schneider is Producer and Jeff Kalpak is Director. Associate Producers are Corine Dana Cohen, Jackie Barlia-Florin, Jae French, Sarah Galvin and Les Schecter, who also is Director of Publicity and Promotions. Felicia M. Lopes is the General Manager. Randie Levine-Miller is Director of Drama Desk Special Events. Roy A. Somlyo is Consulting Producer.

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