Jul. 11: André De Shields and Patti LuPone to Receive John Willis Awards for Lifetime Achievement in The Theatre at Special Theatre World Gala Virtual Award Benefit; Audra McDonald will Receive the Dorothy Loudon SPECIAL Award for Excellence in the Theater

On Sunday, July 11 at 7:00 p.m., in a departure from the annual award ceremony, a one-night only virtual Special Gala Award Benefit to honor Broadways best is being held to help raise funds for the prestigious Theatre World Awards. The 2021 Special Honorees include Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, and André De Shields.

The ONE-NIGHT ONLY Special Gala Benefit will be a celebration of 75 years of the Theatre World Awards and a passionate heartfelt fundraising drive to keep the Theatre World Award legacy alive and thriving for generations to come. Directed by Tom D’Angora and Michael D’Angora, the evenings entertainment will call upon an array of Theatre World Alum who will share their thoughts about their breakout debut performance, or about what it felt like to be honored with a Theatre World Award. All proceeds from the event will go toward presenting and celebrating the theatre community with the much anticipated in person, in theater annual ceremony, the 76th Theatre World Awards, in June 2022.

The special event will be hosted virtually by BroadwayWorld.com on Sunday evening, July 11, 2021 beginning at 7:00PM. Free stream available at www.broadwayworld.com

The producing trio Tom D’Angora, Michael D’Angora, and Tim Guinee recently stepped up to help raise much needed funds for The York Theatre Company, West Bank Cafe, Birdland Jazz Club and LAByrinth Theatre. The trio, who are donating their time, have taken on The Theatre World Awards as their next project.

The Theatre World Awards relies on the support and contributions of its alumni and donors. Donations may be made by visiting the Go Fund Me link.

This year The Theatre World Awards will honor Patti LuPone (Company) and André De Shields (Hadestown) with the 8th Annual John Willis Awards for Lifetime Achievement in The Theatre for their ongoing excellence in the theater.

Patti LuPone has a versatile career that spans across film, television, and theatre. On television, LuPone has made memorable turns on Netflix’s Hollywood, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, the HBO series Girls, and the FX drama hits American Horror Story and Pose. Additional television credits include Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock, Army Wives, Ugly Betty, Will & Grace, and Oz, among others. She has voiced characters on the animated series Steven Universe, Vampirina and Bojack Horseman.

Patti has appeared in numerous feature films, most notably the Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy alongside Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, Witness with Harrison Ford, Brian De Palma’s Wise Guys opposite Danny DeVito and Harvey Keitel, Taylor Hackford’s The Comedian alongside Robert De Niro, Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and most recently, Paul Feig’s Last Christmas.

Most recently, Patti starred in the hit Broadway rendition of Company, for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical in the West End Production. Previously, LuPone starred as ‘Helena Rubenstein’ in the Broadway musical War Paint (after creating the role at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago). For her performance, she received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic’s Circle Award nominations. She led the company of Douglas Carter Beane’s new play Shows For Days under the direction of Jerry Zaks. Patti’s most recent Broadway credits include David Mamet’s The Anarchist and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for which she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. She won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical twice, once for Evita in 1980 and again in 2008 for her performance in Gypsy. She also won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording for The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Patti is also author of the New York Times bestseller Patti LuPone: A Memoir.

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, Mr. De Shields has done for the community this year. 

In 2020, Mr. De Shields 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, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The WizAin’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. De Shields 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).

It was also announced, Theatre World Alum Audra McDonald (Carousel) will receive the Dorothy Loudon SPECIAL Award for Excellence in the Theater to honor her overall excellence and contribution to the theater world.

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy, in 2015 she received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. She won Tonys for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which also served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut. On television, McDonald won an Emmy as the official host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center; she can currently be seen as Liz Lawrence in The Good Fight on Paramount+; and she stars in Spectrum’s pandemic-themed drama, The Bite. Her film credits include Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and MGM’s 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. A Juilliard-trained soprano, McDonald maintains a major career as a Grammy-winning recording and concert artist. Her latest solo album, Sing Happy, was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic for Decca Gold. A founding member of Black Theatre United, board member of Covenant House International, and prominent advocate for LGBTQAI+ rights, her favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother.

The Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater honors an Outstanding Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. Dorothy Loudon, who had the unique talent of being able to make audiences laugh and cry, made her Broadway debut in Nowhere to Go But Up for which she received a Theatre World Award for her performance. She received a Tony® Award for her incomparable performance as ‘Miss Hannigan’ in Annie, and went on to triumphs originating roles in Noises Off, West Side Waltz, and Michael Bennett’s Ballroom. Previous recipients of the Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater include Hampton Fluker (2019), Ben Edelman (2018), Katrina Lenk (2017), Nicholas Barasch (2016), Leanne Cope (2015), Celia Keenan-Bolger (2014), Jonny Orsini (2013), Susan Pourfar (2012), Seth Numrich (2011), Bobby Steggert (2010), and Susan Louise O’Connor (2009).

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.

Lionel Larner, Executive Director of The Dorothy Loudon Foundation, has been an agent for over fifty years representing a cavalcade of stars that have included Eve Arden, Anne Baxter, Larry Blyden, Barry Bostwick, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Tony Goldwyn, Judd Hirsch, Glenda Jackson, Lynn Redgrave, Dame Diana Rigg, and the great Dorothy Loudon, among others. In 1968, Dorothy Loudon met Mr. Larner that began, for want of a better word, a love affair between agent and client. They developed a close friendship that lasted until her death in 2003. In her will she named him as Trustee and Executive Director of a Charitable Foundation to be formed. As “keeper of the flame” Mr. Larner works diligently to fulfill the mission of the Dorothy Loudon Foundation and at the same time to keep the memory of her talent fresh in people’s minds and to familiarize younger Broadway talent and audiences with her legacy. In addition to funding the arts, the Foundation has supported the disadvantaged both locally and internationally, AIDS research related charities, and disaster-relief programs.

It was announced earlier this year, the 76th Theatre World Awards Ceremony, postponed due to the pandemic in 2020, will take place in June 2022. Hosted annually by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia, the historic 76th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be produced by Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors.

“When the universe allows, we will bestow Theatre World Awards to twelve New York stage newcomers who made their significant debuts On or Off-Broadway in the 2021-2022 season, with special honors to those who made their debuts in 2019- 2020,” stated Mr. Badway. “The 8th John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and the 12th Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater, triumphantly celebrate the ongoing excellence in theatre during these challenging times.”. Badway closed by stating, “We look forward to celebrating the world of theatre at our 76th Theatre World Awards Ceremony in June 2022.”

In what has become a highly entertaining and often touching tradition, 12 previous winners serve as the presenters, and often relive moments from past ceremonies and share wonderful stories rarely heard at other theatrical awards. Many people feel that this is the most fun and enjoyable awards show of the Broadway season! The historic 76th Theatre World Awards Ceremony will celebrate past and present honorees showcasing the historic heritage of our organization.

Hosted annually by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia, the historic 76th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be produced by Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors.

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.

First presented in 1945, the prestigious Theatre World Awards, founded by John Willis, the Editor-in-Chief of both Theatre World and its companion volume, Screen World, are the oldest awards given for Outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway Debut Performances. The Theatre World Awards are presented annually at the end of the theatre season to six actors and six actresses for their significant, reviewable, debut performances in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. The ceremony is a private, invitation-only event followed by a party to celebrate the new honorees and welcome them to the Theatre World “family.” In what has become a highly entertaining and often touching tradition, 12 previous winners serve as the presenters, and often relive moments from past ceremonies and share wonderful stories rarely heard at other theatrical awards.

Previous winners who have won the prestigious Theatre World Award at the beginning of their careers include Meryl Streep, Rosemary Harris, Marlon Brando, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Liza Minnelli, Alan Alda, Zoe Caldwell, Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Al Pacino, Grace Kelly, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, Lupita Nyong’o, John Krasinski, and so many more.

The Theatre World Awards Board encourages theater lovers to “LIKE” the Theatre World Awards fan page on Facebook and follow on Twitter at @TWAwards.

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


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