While the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Drama League, and other annual honors might seem top-heavy with names and faces that are already familiar, what makes the Theatre World Awards distinct is how they celebrate those who are making their Broadway or Off-Broadway debuts this season.
Each year since 1945, the Theatre World Awards have bestowed this once-only, highly prized honor, and this year, for the 60th time, a group of performers has been selected to receive it -- seven women and six men. The awards, tied to the annual publication edited by John Willis that chronicles, in exacting editorial and pictorial detail, each legit season in New York, will be presented at an invitation-only, Mon., May 24, 3-6 pm ceremony at Studio 54.
One production, "The Boy From Oz," contributed no fewer than three performers to this year's winning roster: Hugh Jackman, who stars as Peter Allen in the tuner; Isabel Keating, who indelibly plays Judy Garland; and Mitchel David Federan, who essays Allen as a young lad. The musical "Avenue Q," meanwhile, generated a pair of Theatre World Award winners: Stephanie D'Abruzzo and John Tartaglia, who play multiple, puppet-pleasing roles in the show.
The remaining honorees are: Shannon Cochran for "Bug," Alexander Gemignani for "Assassins," Sarah Jones for "Bridge & Tunnel," Sanaa Lathan for "A Raisin in the Sun," Jefferson Mays for "I Am My Own Wife," Euan Morton for "Taboo," Anika Noni Rose for "Caroline, or Change," and Jennifer Westfeldt for "Wonderful Town."
The scheduled presenters at the May 24 gala include four previous winners of Theatre World Awards: La Chanze, Viola Davis, Jarrod Emick, and Lonny Price.
This year's selection committee consisted of Peter Filichia of the Newark Star-Ledger, Harry Haun of Playbill, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Sommers of Newhouse Newspapers, Linda Winer of Newsday, Matthew Murray of Theatermania.com, John Willis of Theatre World, and Ben Hodges, also of Theatre World and the executive producer of the event.