Helmut Baumann Receives German Musical Theater Award in Berlin
Today for the first time in the history of musicals in Germany the Deutsche Musical Akademie („German Academy for Musical Theatre") presented an award for outstanding achievement in Berlin. The organization, which was only formed a few months ago and whose goal it is to support the genre Musical as an essential part of German and European culture, honored this year's award-winner, Helmut Baumann, in a ceremony celebrated at the Komische Oper Berlin. The German Musical Theater Award will be presented yearly in several different catagories for musicals produced in German-speaking Europe. Norbert Hunecke, the Chairman of the Board of the Deutsche Musical Akademie, justified the Academy's choice with the following statement: „Helmut Baumann was chosen because of his unique position in establishing and promoting musicals in Germany. Under his leadership, the Theater des Westens was a flagship for musical theater in Germany during the 1980's and 1990's. As a stage director and theater director he also created a place where talent was discovered and nurtured, thereby helping many performers in building their careers."
At the award ceremony three famous colleagues of Helmut Baumann - Ruth Brauer-Kvam, Daniela Ziegler and Angelika Milster - surprised and performed for the award-winner. Thomas Hermanns, a member of the Academy from the start, moderated the event. In a speech honoring the award-winner Barrie Kosky, the director of the Komische Oper Berlin stated: „Helmut Baumann is musical in Berlin. As a performer and director, hardly any other person has left such a long-standing mark on the Berlin musical scene in the last decades. Therefore he has truly earned the Deutsche Musical Akademie's honorary award. Masel tov!"
In the evening there was a gala party with numerous representatives of the musical scene and many famous surprise guests live on stage at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin. It was a celebration not only of the first award-winner but also of the newly-founded Deutsche Musical Akademie. Founding-member Thomas Hermanns stated: „I am so happy that the first Gala of the Academy is being held in the Quatsch Comedy Club. It is a symbol of how flexible the borders between different genres are. It is of primary importance for theater people to reach the audience with what we are doing on stage. We want to entertain, and give the audience room for reflection, laughter and tears. It is totally unimportant what label we give a particular piece. An important goal of the Academy is to put an end to the practise of dividing art into the exclusive catagories of „entertainment" or „serious theater"."
The award-winner Helmut Baumann is an integral part Berlin's theater scene. Under his direction, the Theater des Westens in Berlin's borough of Charlottenburg was not only one of the main attractions of the city but also Germany's most important repertory theater for musicals. Mr. Baumann is a celebrated stage director and performer. Especially unforgettable is his interpretation of the role of ZaZa in the musical „La Cage aux Folles", which he performed over 300 times. He is currently appearing in the jazz-operetta, „Ball im Savoy" at the Komische Oper Berlin.
Photo Courtesy of Deutsche Musical Akademie