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Photo Flash: 19th Annual Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala

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The award-winning York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director) hosted its 19th Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre on Monday, November 22, 2010, honoring Tony Award-winning librettist Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray, Elf). The evening was directed by Tony-winning director/lyricist/librettist Richard Maltby and the award was presented by Alice Hammerstein Mathias, daughter of Oscar Hammerstein II.

Appearances included: Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll and Hyde), Tony winner Jim Dale (Barnum, Candide), Felicia Finley (The Wedding Singer), Josh Grisetti (Enter Laughing, The Musical), Matthew Gumley (Elf), Tony winner Shuler Hensley (Oklahoma!, Young Frankenstein), Tony winner George S. Irving (Irene; Enter Laughing, The Musical), Tony winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Elf), Tony nominee Andrea McArdle (Annie), Robert McClure (Avenue Q, Limelight), Tony winner Mark O'Donnell (co-librettist of Hairspray and Cry-Baby), Tony nominee Brad Oscar (The Producers), Jill Paice (Curtains), Tony nominee Lee Roy Reams (42nd Street, The Producers), Conrad John Schuck (Annie), Tony nominee Christopher Sieber (Shrek, Spamalot), Don Stephenson (Rock of Ages, The Producers), 6 time Emmy nominee George Wendt (Elf, Hairspray), Tony winner Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic) and Rosie's Theater Kids. David Krane (The Road to Qatar) served as music director.

The concert celebration honored the legendary librettist at The Racquet & Tennis Club (370 Park Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets).

Thomas Meehan won the 2003 Tony Award for co-writing the book for Hairspray after having won the 2001 Tony Award for co-writing the book of The Producers. He received his first Tony Award in 1977 for writing the book of Annie, which was his first Broadway show, and he has since written books for the musicals I Remember Mama; Ain't Broadway Grand; Annie Warbucks and the American version of Bombay Dreams. His most recent works are the Broadway musicals Young Frankenstein, for which he co-wrote the book with Mel Brooks; Cry Baby, co-written with Mark O'Donnell; and Elf, co-written with Bob Martin. Meanwhile, already written and in the works are Death Takes a Holiday, for which he has co-written the book with the late Peter Stone to music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, and Limelight, for which he has co-written the book with Christopher Curtis.
In addition, he is a long-time contributor of humor pieces, including "Yma Dream," to The New Yorker; an Emmy Award-winning writer of television comedy; and a collaborator on a number of screenplays, including Mel Brooks' Spaceballs; To Be or Not to Be and the film version of The Producers. He is also the co-author, with the poet J.D. McClatchy, of the libretto of 1984, an opera composed by Lorin Maazel, based on George Orwell's classic novel, which had its world premiere in the spring of 2005 at London's Royal Opera House and was performed in 2008 at La Scala, in Milan. Mr. Meehan is a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild.

The Oscar Hammerstein Award was created by York's founder, the late Janet Hayes Walker, and is named in honor of the legendary lyricist who helped shape the American musical theatre through his collaborations with a number of different composers and writers. The Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala is the major fundraising event of the York Theatre Company, and is presented with the endorsement of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and the Hammerstein Family. Past recipients include Stephen Sondheim, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Harold Prince, Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Herman, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Stone, David Merrick, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Terrence McNally, Cameron Mackintosh, Carol Channing, Tony Walton, Joseph Stein, George S. Irving and Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick.

The York Theatre Company is the only theater in New York City - and one of very few in the world - dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals and preserving neglected, notable shows from the past. Over the past two seasons, York productions and artists have been nominated for a combined 31 Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, AUDELCO and Callaway Awards (and its productions of Yank! A WWII Love Story and Enter Laughing, The Musical have both been announced for Broadway transfers). For over four decades, York's intimate, imaginative style of producing both original and neglected classic musicals has resulted in critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences alike. Under the guidance of Artistic Director James Morgan since 1997, the York has focused exclusively on new musicals in its Mainstage Series-most of them world, American, or New York premieres-by some of the field's most esteemed creators, and has also helped launch the careers of many talented new writers. Over 30 cast recordings from York Theatre Company productions are now available on CD, and commercial transfers of such York premieres as The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), Souvenir, Jolson & Company, and its acclaimed revivals of Sweeney Todd and Pacific Overtures have all showcased the importance of the York and its programs.

Photo credit: Ben Strothmann

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