Honorees included actors Cristin Milioti ("Once") and Nina Arianda ("Venus in Fur"), directors Diane Paulus ("The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess") and Sarah Benson ("Elective Affinities"), playwrights Katori Hall ("The Mountaintop") and Leslye Headland ("Assistance"), and set designer Heidi Ettinger. Milioti, Arianda, and Paulus are also nominated for 2012 Tony Awards.
Lifetime achievement awards were given to multiple Tony Award nominee Estelle Parsons, who is currently performing in the musical "Nice Work If You Can Get It" on Broadway, and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Tina Howe, whose play "Painting Churches" had an Off-Broadway revival this year.
"This is an opportunity to congratulate and celebrate the contribution made to the American theater by spectacularly talented women -- often not acknowledged by the theatrical community during the end of season awards," said Lillys co-founder and playwright Marsha Norman. "Our honorees have worked hard to set the standard high for all theater artists, and we feel honored and privileged to acknowledge their significant and profound contributions."
The Committee for Recognizing Women in Theater formed in 2010 and presented the first Lilly Awards, named after renowned playwright Lillian Hellman, the same year. Founders included writers Norman, Julia Jordan, and Theresa Rebeck, and Playwrights Horizons artistic director Tim Sanford. (The New York Times noted that Howe was also one of the founding members of the committee. She did not take part in the voting process for the awards, however, which were chosen by 25 theater professionals.)