Actors' Equity Association has announced a newly created musical theatre award available to Equity membership candidates. The honor is named for the late casting director Roger Sturtevant, who died last year at age 56 and who adored musicals.
The Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award, consisting of a $1,000 check and a certificate, will be presented to one male and one female Equity membership candidate each April on the basis of a videotaped audition, written recommendations, and a completed application. Members of the Casting Society of America and the Actors' Equity Foundation will select the award recipients. In many ways it is an unprecedented prize, starting with the fact that it goes to actors and actresses at the beginning of their careers—not yet Equity members although working toward it.
In addition, it is a national honor. "We wanted to cast as wide a net as possible," said Equity communications director David Lotz. "But most unusual for us, we've never given an award on the basis of a videotaped audition. In fact, we've never given an award on the basis of any audition."
Some of Equity's other honors are awarded on the basis of a current performance, most notably the Richard Seff and Clarence Derwent awards, given respectively to an older character actor and a newcomer in supporting roles during the previous theatre season.
After working as a box office treasurer for summer theatres in the Northeast and later as assistant treasurer in several Broadway box offices, including the Winter Garden, Sturtevant launched his 30-year casting career as an associate at Circle in the Square. In 1975 he began working in the commercial casting department at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. Four years later, he joined Pat McCorkle and cast the NBC soap The Doctors, as well as regional theatre, independent productions, and films. Later he moved to Bates Worldwide to become its New York voiceover casting director.
Sturtevant was also well-versed in the world of American music. He had a significant collection of albums, tapes, discs, and related books. His knowledge of the American musical theatre was, according to many accounts, encyclopedic.
Tax-deductible donations to the award in honor of Sturtevant's memory can be made to the Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award, c/o Actors' Equity Foundation, 165 W. 46th St., New York, NY 10036.
In the fall, applications for the award will be made available on Equity's website, www.actorsequity.org.