André De Shields and Riki Kane Larimer Honored at The York Theatre Company’s 28th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala

Edison Ballroom. Photo by Lia Chang

2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown) and Producer Riki Kane Larimer (Cagney) were the toast of the town at the York Theatre Company’s 28th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala, held at the Edison Ballroom in New York on November 11.

Tony-winning actor and playwright Charlayne Woodard, who starred opposite Mr. De Shields in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and is currently starring in the FX series “Pose,” hosted the festivities.

Charlayne Woodard. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields, Michael Unger (York Theatre Company Gala Director). Photo by Lia Chang

Michael Unger (York’s former Associate Artistic Director, recently appointed Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre in Wisconsin) helmed the evening’s celebration under the music direction of Eric Svejcar with special guest appearances by John Ellison Conlee, Robert Creighton, Darius de Haas, Jeffry Denman, Dawn Driver, Ekele Ukegbu, Mercedes Ellington, Teresa Eyring, Ron Lucas, Richard Maltby, Jr., Larry Owens, Tony Perry, Malvinna Rose, Marc Shaiman, Ben Vereen, Anita Welch, Freida Williams, Patrick Wilson, David Yazbek, and The Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble. Featured in the program were musical numbers from the hit Broadway musicals The Wiz, HAIR, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Full Monty, and more.

AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN – Marymount Manhattan College Ensemble
from HAIR (Galt MacDermot/James Radon’s/Gerome Ragni)

André De Shields and the Marymount Manhattan College Students and Alumni. Photo by Lia Chang

HAMMERSTEIN DREAM MEDLEY -York Musical Theatre Training Program Ensemble and American Musical and Dramatic Academy Ensemble
from South Pacific and Sound of Music (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)

James Ludwig, Musical Theater Training Program Alum, Michael Unger. Photo by Lia Chang

The York Theatre Company’s Producing Artistic Director James Morgan presented The York Theatre Company Founders’ Award to Producer Riki Kane Larimer (Cagney).

RIKI DOODLE DANDY -Robert Creighton with Melissa Schott, Edward Tolve, Jessica Wockenfus)
From Cagney and George M. (Robert Creighton/Christopher McGovern/George M. Cohan)
Special Material by Stuart Ross and Robert Creighton

Robert Creighton. Photo by Lia Chang

EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD – Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem, Alumni Ensemble
From The Wiz (Charlie Smalls)

Video from Ain’t Misbehavin’

From The Wiz (Charlie Smalls)

Richard Maltby Jr, Charlayne Woodard, André de Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

FINALE FROM AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ – Dawn Driver, Ron Lucas, Tony Perry, Malvinna Rose and Anita Welch
From Ain’t Misbehavin’ (From the catalogue of Fats Waller, arranged by Luther Henderson)
Accompanied by Darius Frowner

André De Shields and cast of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’. Photo by Lia Chang

PARTY SICKNESS – Larry Owens with Marymount Manhattan College Ensemble
From Rachel Lily Rosenbloom (And Don’t You Ever Forget It) (Paul Jabara)

FOR GOOD – Ben Vereen
From Wicked (Stephen Schwartz)
Accompanied by Desmond Scaife

When Ben Vereen came out in a wheelchair to sing FOR GOOD, he said his doctor would only let him come if André signed his cast.

Ben Vereen and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Video remarks – Michael Dinwiddie and the Black Theatre Network Chorus

BIG ASS ROCK – Patrick Wilson, John Ellison Conlee and David Yazbek
From The Full Monty (David Yazbek)

From The Full Monty (David Yazbek)

Patrick Wilson. Photo by Lia Chang

Video Remarks – Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young

Hosea Chew, Director of Administration, City of Baltimore brought André a second Key to the City of Baltimore and a Proclamation from the Mayor. Photo by Lia Chang
Hosea Chew, Director of Administration, City of Baltimore brought André a second Key to the City of Baltimore and a Proclamation from the Mayor. Photo by Lia Chang
Mercedes Ellington. Photo by Lia Chang

From Play on! (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills)

NEW YORK IS A PARTY – Marc Shaiman and Freida Williams
From Haarlem Nocturne (Marc Shaiman/Robert I. Rubinsky)

Marc Shaiman, Joseph Wallace and Freida Williams. Photo by Lia Chang

HADESTOWN Producer Mara Isaacs brought a special message of congratulations from André’s castmates.

Mara Isaacs. Photo by Lia Chang

HOME – Ekele Ukegbu
From The Wiz (Charlie Smalls)

Video Montage of The Career of André De Shields

Ted Chapin, representing the Hammerstein Family and The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, introduced The Oscar Hammerstein Award. Photo by Lia Chang

Teresa Eyring, Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) presented the 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre to André de Shields.

After his acceptance speech, André sang BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and was then joined for the the BELIEVE IN YOURSELF finale, led by Kylie Kuioka, and featuring the  Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni, the Ensemble and the  FULL COMPANY.

Kylie Kuioka, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his unanimously critically acclaimed performance as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On!, and The Full Monty. In a career spanning fifty 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. On August 19 of this year, His Honor Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presented him with the Key to the City of his hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.

Joan Ross Sorkin, André De Shields, Riki Kane Larimer, Evans Haile (York Theatre Company Executive Director), Stuart Wilk. Photo by Lia Chang

The Oscar Hammerstein Award is presented at an annual gala which benefits 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 and Adolph Green, Harold Prince, Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Herman, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Stone, David Merrick, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Terrence McNally, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Carol Channing, Tony Walton, Joseph Stein, George S. Irving, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Tom Meehan, Barbara Cook, Paul Gemignani, Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Angela Lansbury, Joel Grey, the legendary songwriting team of Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones, and five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.

Jim Kierstead, Claudia Zahn, W. David McCoy, Riki Kane Larimer, Andre De Shields Joan Ross Sorkin, Laurance Holzman, James Morgan, Evans Haile. Photo by Lia Chang

The York Theatre Company Founders’ Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact on the sustainability of the Company, and of the arts. Past recipients of the award include Janet Hayes Walker, the Founding Artistic Director of the York, W. David McCoy, Sarah Tod Smith, Molly Grose, Robert Goldberg, and Gerald F. Fisher.

David McCoy ( York Theatre Company Chairman of the Board), André De Shields, James Morgan (York Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director). Photo by Lia Chang

The York Theatre Company, celebrating its 50th year, is the only company in New York, and one of the few in the world, whose two-fold mission is to produce new musical works and rediscover musical gems from the past. The York’s credits include more than 70 fully staged productions, more than 100 Mufti semi-staged readings, 35 cast albums, and commercial transfers that include the Broadway productions of Sweeney Todd (1989-90), and Souvenir (2005-2006).

Andy Hammerstein, Charlayne Woodard, Riki Kane Larimer, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The York Theatre Company Team. Photo by Lia Chang
Freida Williams, Howard Schein, André De Shields, Petra Schein, Burton Schein and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and

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