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Theatre Museum Awards Announce 2012 Honorees: Frederick O. Olsson, Stagedoor Manor & TCG

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Monday, April 30, 2012 is the day when the Theatre Museum Awards return to the stage to honor and celebrate outstanding achievement in the theatre industry. 

This year’s Career Achievement Award is bestowed to a man who looks back on a lifelong and multifaceted dedication to all things theatre. Frederick O. Olsson served as master carpenter for 38 shows at the Broadway Theatre, while also being active as a singer and performer. “Do your best, be your best – no matter what the job is and be a good person,” was and is his motto.

A Queens, NY native, Olsson attended Juilliard School of Music, and the Columbia University School of Engineering and he knew how to combine these two passions.  He starred in two Broadway Shows, “Arms and the Girl” (1950), and “Music in the Air” (1951) while he simultaneously juggled his job as carpentry foreman on the construction of the United Nations Security Building, a job soon after which he would begin overseeing the stage design for wonderful productions such as “South Pacific,” “Mr. Wonderful,” “A Most Happy Fella,” “Gypsy,” and “My Fair Lady.” 

In 1964, Mr. Olsson became involved with the Shubert Organization, the largest theatrical firm in the world, where he excelled as Facilities Director and where he became Senior Consultant in 1992. 

Prolific director and writer Gordon Greenberg will be in charge of the onstage awards presentation. Busily hopping between London’s West End and both US coasts, Greenberg has recently also found time to direct and revise Stud Terkel’s “Working” for Broadway in Chicago, together with Stephen Schwartz and Lin Manuel Miranda.  Texas born and New York raised, Greenberg attended Stanford University and NYU Film School and is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.

The Theatre History Preservation Award goes to Don B. Wilmeth, Emeritus Professor of Theatre and of English at Brown University, where he worked for 36 years. His valuable contribution to the preservation of theatre history manifests itself in more than forty books on the subject, all of which he has either written, co-authored or edited. Wilmeth also co-edited the award-winning three-volume Cambridge History of American Theatre and wrote George Frederick Cooke: Machiavel of the Stage (Hewitt Award).Contributor to dozens of reference works, for a decade he was series editor for Cambridge University Press's "Studies in American Theatre and Drama" and is currently editor of Palgrave Macmillan's "Studies in Theatre and Performance History." An ardent collector of theatre and entertainment ephemera and memorabilia, he has mounted three public exhibits drawn from his collection. 

This year, two organizations receive awards for their outstanding commitment to keeping the spirit of theatre alive and kicking. The Theatre Arts Education Award is bestowed to Stagedoor Manor. Since 1976, Stagedoor Manor has been an oasis of discovery and unconditional acceptance for passionate young performers seeking a community where dreams are understood and shared. Carl and Elsie Samuelson created this program almost 40 years ago and it is still a family business, now run by the sisters Cindy and Debra. Stagedoor Manor is committed to all levels of talent and experience which is why students are admitted without auditions on a first come basis. 40 full-scale productions are mounted in 9 weeks, with material often cutting edge, and casts and classes are kept small. The program expands almost yearly with new theaters and classrooms, fresh material right off the Broadway stage, and a constant flow of leading professionals from the industry stepping in to share their experience and passion. Last year, Stagedoor Manor was host to young actors from 27 countries and 46 states.

The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) is decorated with the Award for Distinguished Service to the Theatre. For 50 years, this national organization for the American theatre has existed to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 13,000 individuals nationwide. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 11 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning AMERICAN THEATRE magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. 

The preparations for this evening with the stars are currently in full swing.  On April 30, the awards celebrations kick off at 6pm in Manhattan’s  legendary Player’s Club at 16, Gramercy Park South and guarantee three hours of splendid immersion into the magic of theatre.

Tickets for the Reception and Buffet Dinner, Presentation and journal opportunities are available through The Theatre Museum website, by calling the office (212 764 4112), or by emailing awards@thetheatremuseum.org.

Founded in 2003, The Theatre Museum is New York’s first and only chartered, non-profit museum dedicated to the history of theatre.  Currently it is a museum-at-large -- presenting exhibition’s on a myriad of subjects in collaboration with other cultural institutions. The Museum's community outreach includes teaching children how to write, direct and stage live theatre, as well as the presentation of the annual Theatre Museum Awards for Excellence at its annual Gala. Its primary mission is to preserve, protect and perpetuate the legacy of theatre through innovative programming. The Theatre Museum grows out of the legacy of The Broadway Theatre Institute.


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