Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre

Watch speeches from De Shields along with Jerry Mitchell here!

By: Jul. 19, 2021
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The 2021 John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre is the latest accolade for Tony, Grammy and Emmy winning Hadestown star André De Shields, fresh from his critically-acclaimed turn as King Lear at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.

On July 11, Tom D'Angora and Michael D'Angora, co-directors and co-producers of The Theatre World Awards virtual benefit gala, held an intimate viewing party in a screening room at their W. 42nd St. apartment building to celebrate.

André was comfortable and cool in a black short sleeve jumpsuit, red socks and black shoes with red and white accents, while the D'Angoras wore custom designed red t-shirts featuring a photo of The Original Goat.

Each year The Theatre World Awards presents 12 awards to outstanding debut performances on and off-Broadway. After a year of no debuts, The Theatre World Awards, the oldest American award for debuts in theatre in New York, returned for a one-night virtual benefit gala honoring Audra McDonald with the Dorothy Loudon Special Award for Excellence in Theatre, and Broadway legends Patti LuPone and André De Shields with the 8th Annual John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in The Theatre.

The virtual benefit streamed on BroadwayWorld and Director/Choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who worked with André on The Full Monty and Half Time, presented him with the Award via a taped message. Watch their speeches below.

The star-studded benefit gala also featured past Theatre World Award winners Christy Altomare, Phillip Boykin, Ann Hampton Callaway, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Ana Villafañe, Andrea McArdle, Bonnie Milligan, Adam Pascal, Ethan Slater, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and John Loyd Young; and appearances by Iain Armitage, Lucie Arnaz, Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Bonnie Bedelia, Ceila Keenan-Bolger, Bryan Cranston, Kristin Chenoweth, Giancarlo Esposito, Tovah Feldshuh, Harvey Fierstein, Peter Gallagher, Jackie Hoffman, Ernestine Jackson, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Andrea Martin, Audra McDonald, Rob McClure, Bernadette Peters, Jerry Mitchell, Hayley Mills, Jim Parsons, Daphne Rubin-Vega, William Shatner, Brooke Shields, Cobie Smulders, John Stamos, Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Tilly and Chandra Wilson.

André closed out the show with a virtual performance of "None Of Us Are Free", accompanied by Sean Mayes on the keys and Andrew Atkinson on the drums, which was filmed by Michael D'Angora and Tom D'Angora at The Triad.

The gathering also gave André an opportunity to catch up with his Music Director Sean Mayes, and his vocalists Freida Williams, Kimberly Marable and Lori Tishfield, who are accompanying him in a series of concerts at Feinstein's/54 Below, August 3-7, and The Cabaret in Indianapolis, August 12-14.

For additional information about the Theatre World Awards, visit www.theatreworldawards.org.

Photo Credit: Lia Chang

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Michael D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Tom D'Angora

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Michael D'Angora

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Michael D'Angora

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Michael D'Angora, Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Andre De Shields, Andrew Atkinson

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Andre De Shields, Andrew Atkinson

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Andre De Shields, Andrew Atkinson

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Andre De Shields, Andrew Atkinson

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Michael D'Angora

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Michael D'Angora, Andrew Atkinson

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Michael D'Angora, Andre De Shields, Tom D'Angora

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Seated: Arlene Bowman, Andre De Shields, Samuel-Moses Jones, Kimberly Marable, Lori Tishfield. Standing: Burton Schein, Howard Schein, Michael D'Angora, Tom D'Angora, Vincent Phram, Melvin Abston, Michael Dinwiddie, Petra Schein, Freida Williams, Nick Gerrity, Sean Mayes

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Seated: Arlene Bowman, Andr De Shields, Lia Chang, Samuel-Moses Jones, Kimberly Marable, Lori Tishfield. Standing, Burton Schein, Howard Schein, Michael D'Angora, Tom D'Angora, Vincent Phram, Melvin Abston, Petra Schein, Freida Williams, Nick Gerrity. Photo by Michael Dinwiddie

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Sean Mayes, Freida Williams, Lori Tishfield, Kimberly Marable, Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields with his featured vocalists, Freida Williams, Lori Tishfield, Kimberly Marable

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Andre De Shields with his featured vocalists, Freida Williams, Lori Tishfield, Kimberly Marable

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Michael Dinwiddie, Andre De Shields, Vincent Phram

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Michael D'Angora, Tom D'Angora, Andre De Shields

Photos/Video: Andre De Shields Celebrates 2021 John Willis Award For Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre
Lia Chang, Andre De Shields. Photo by Vincent Phram

The Theatre World Awards relies on the support and contributions of its alumni and donors. Tax deductible donations may be made by visiting the Go Fund Me link at https://gofund.me/cf2604da.

André De Shields was the triple-crown winner of the 2019 award season, garnering Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards for his role as universally praised role as the messenger to the gods, Hermes, in Hadestown. The Actors' Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors' best supporting performances of the year. New York Senator Brad Hoylman presented Mr. De Shields with a Senate Proclamation on Thursday, April 8th, 2021 proclaiming the day "André De Shields Appreciation Day". The surprise proclamation was arranged by producer Tom D'Angora to honor the extensive charity work and activism, along with the public appearances, André has done for the community this year.

In 2020, André received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, the 2020 AUDELCO for Lifetime Achievement, an honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the 2020 Red Bull Theater Matador Award for Excellence in Classical Theater. In 2019, he received the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, The York Theatre Company's 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young in August, 2019. Prior to his Tony Award win, André was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination).

In a career spanning fifty one years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival's Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. His film and TV roles include Keys, who first appeared in a 2014 episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." He has also appeared on "Law and Order" twice, as Dr. Elvin Simmonds (Custody,1996) and Mr. Miller (Cost of Capital,2006); Dale Rustin on NBC's "New Amsterdam"; Anton Ego in Ratatouille: The TikTok Tok Musical, the Algebra Tutor in "John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch"? on Netflix; Chubby in "Katy Keene" on the CW; and Wyndham on "Almost Family." He can be heard on the podcasts Live From Mount Olympus as Hermes and One Speckled Hen. He can next be seen as Gavin Plimsoll in Charles Busch's? new film, The Sixth Reel. André is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. andredeshields.com

The John Willis Award is given for lifetime achievement in the theatre to honor the man who created and maintained the Theatre World tradition for 66 years, encouraging new talent in an often challenging business. The John Willis Award is presented annually by the Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors to an individual whose lifetime achievements and personal generosity to the Theatre Community merit special recognition and acknowledgement. Previous recipients of the John Willis Award include Nathan Lane (2019), Victor Garber (2018), Glenn Close (2017), Bernadette Peters (2016), Chita Rivera (2015), Christopher Plummer (2014), and Alan Alda (2013).

The Theatre World Award honorees are chosen by the Theatre World Awards Committee which is comprised of Linda Armstrong (Amsterdam News), David Cote (The Observer), Joe Dziemianowicz (New York Daily News, Emeritus), Peter Filichia (The Newark Star-Ledger, Emeritus), David Finkle(New York Stage Review), Elysa Gardner (USA Today, Emeritus), Harry Haun (Theatermania), Frank Scheck (The Hollywood Reporter), and Janice Simpson (Broadway & Me). The Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors is headed by Dale Badway (President) with Tom Lynch (Vice-President), Michael Kostel (Vice-President), Stephen Wilde (Secretary), Honorable Ilene Zatkin-Butler (Treasurer), James Sheridan, and Karen Johnston. The Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater is chosen by the Trustees of The Dorothy Loudon Foundation, Lionel Larner, Executive Director, together with recommendations from the Theatre World Awards Committee.


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