Drama League Announces Speciality Awards Recipients

By: Mar. 25, 2008

The Drama League (Jano Herbosch, President) announced the recipients of its three annual specialty awards, to be presented along with its five annual production and performance awards at The 74th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Friday, May 16, 2008 (noon).

Paul Gemignani will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award, Bartlett Sher will be honored with the Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing, and Ellen Stewart / La Mama E.T.C. will receive the Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award.

Hosted by Harvey Fierstein (A Catered Affair),The 74th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheonis co-chaired by Broadway luminaries Bobby Cannavale (Mauritius), Laurence Fishburne (Thurgood), Peter Gallagher (The Country Girl), Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu),  Laura Linney (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) S. Epatha Merkerson (Come Back, Little Sheba), Rosie Perez (The Ritz), Martha Plimpton (Cymbeline) and Patrick Stewart (Macbeth).

Long considered the theatre season's most festive award ceremony, The Drama League Awards pays tribute to the season's best performers by including the nominees of The Distinguished Performance Award on a dais.  The 74th Annual Drama League Awards dais will feature approximately 60 stars from the 2007-08 Broadway and Off-Broadway season, including the Honorary Co-Chairs.

In addition to The Distinguished Performance Award,The Drama League's 3,000 members vote on four other annual awards: Distinguished Production of a Play, Distinguished Production of a Musical, Distinguished Revival of a Play and Distinguished Revival of a Musical.  Nominations for these five awards will be announced on Tuesday, April 22.

 Tickets for The 74th Annual Drama League Awards are now available.  Individual tickets are $150-$475. Tables of ten range from $1,500 to $4,750. For more information, please call The Drama League at 212-244-9494 ext. 5 or visit www.dramaleague.org.

Last season, Drama League Awards were presented to Liev Schreiber (Distinguished Performance), The Coast of Utopia (Distinguished Production of a Play), Spring Awakening  (Distinguished Production of a Musical), Journey's End  (Distinguished Revival of a Play) and Company (Distinguished Revival of a Musical).

The first Drama League Award was presented to actress Katharine Cornell in 1935, making it the oldest National Theatre honor, predating the Tony Awards by twelve years.  In recent years, the Distinguished Performance Award has been accorded to a roster of theatre legends such as RoseMary Harris, Christopher Plummer, Sir Ian McKellen, Bernadette Peters, James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Bebe Neuwirth, Cherry Jones, Mary-Louise Parker, Liam Neeson, Harvey Fierstein, Norbert Leo Butz and Christine Ebersole, among others.

Paul Gemignani has been a musical director for more than 35 Broadway shows, including Follies, Pacific Overtures, Candide, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Dreamgirls, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, On the Twentieth Century, Sunday in the Park with George, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Crazy for You, Passion, High Society, Kiss Me Kate, Assassins and Frogs.

He has also conducted "Follies Live at the Philharmonic" and "A Little Night Music" on PBS for the Live at Lincoln Center Series. His major studio film credits include Kramer vs. Kramer, Reds, Eyewitness and Sweeney Todd.

He has earned Grammy nominations for the cast recordings of Passion, Crazy for You and Kiss Me Kate. In 2006, he received an Emmy Award for Best Direction for "South Pacific at Carnegie Hall" on PBS. He also received a 2001 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music.

Bartlett SherBartlett Sher has been Artistic Director of Seattle's Intiman Theatre since 2000. He received a 2006 Tony nomination for his direction of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! and 2005 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle nominations for his direction of The Light in the Piazza by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel, both for Lincoln Center Theater. In 2006, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

At Intiman, he has directed Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth and Our Town; Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters, both in new adaptations by Craig Lucas; the world premieres of Prayer for My Enemy and Singing Forest by Craig Lucas (both also for Long Wharf Theatre) as well as Lucas's The Dying Gaul; and the world premiere of Nickel and Dimed, a commissioned adaptation of the nonfiction book by Barbara Ehrenreich by Joan Holden.

He directed a new production of Cymbeline in 2002, produced by Theatre for a New Audience, which premiered in England as the first American Shakespeare ever performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He received the Callaway Award for the production's award-winning Off-Broadway run. For TFANA he also directed the American premiere of Harley Granville-Barker's Waste (2000 Best Play OBIE), Don Juan and Pericles. He made his opera-directing debut with Mourning Becomes Electra for Seattle Opera and New York City Opera. He serves on the Board of Theatre Communications Group, and has held positions as associate artistic director at Hartford Stage and company director at The Guthrie Theater under his mentor, Garland Wright. He received his graduate training as the only American in a class of interNational Theatre artists at Leeds University in England.

His directing projects in 2008 include the first Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, produced by Lincoln Center Theater, and the opera Roméo et Juliette, starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, for the Salzburg Festival.

Ellen StewartEllen Stewart is the Founder and Director of the La Mama E.T.C., the theatre that began in October 1961, and to this day continues to be of great importance to world culture. To date, La Mama E.T.C. has presented more than 1,900 productions. Its resident theatre troupes have performed throughout the world including Columbia, Venezuela, Lebanon, Iran, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Scotland, England, Sweden, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, Korea, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Australia, Greece, Ukraine, Siberia, The Netherlands, and Macedonia.

New Eastern European Theatre was introduced in America in 1967 when Ellen Stewart brought Jerzy Grotowski, Ryszard Cieslak, and Ludwig Flaszen to America. In this endeavor she was aided by TEd Hoffman of New York University. Ms. Stewart was instrumental in introducing to America some of the world's most influential artists including Andrei Serban and Tom O'Horgan, and is proud of La MaMa's long heritage as an interNational Theatre, having hosted artists from more than seventy different countries.

Ellen Stewart has staged, composed, directed and written librettos for original folk-opera/ spectacles, presented in America, Uruguay, Argentina, Austria, Italy, Turkey, the Philippines, the Cameroon, Zaire, Central African Republic, Senegal, Nigeria, Brazil, Haiti, Morocco, Israel, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. She has lectured in all of the above countries, is a visiting professor of the Institute of Drama in South Korea and is a long-standing member of the Seoul InterNational Theatre Institute.

The Drama League was founded in 1916 as an association of theatre professionals and patrons dedicated to encouraging the finest in professional theatre and has since then developed into the theatre's premiere service organization.  The Drama League provides an unparalleled training program for emerging theatre artists through The Directors Project, which encourages and trains young talents while providing much-needed exposure and essential connections to the professional theatrical community.

The Drama League's Audience Project is dedicated to building strong, passionate audiences for the American theatre, providing discounted tickets for its members to the best Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional productions across the United States while enhancing the theatergoer's understanding and experience of live theatre through its informative panels, luncheons and discussions with leading figures in the field.

For more information please visit www.dramaleague.org


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