Actors Celebrate Their Broadway and Off-Broadway Debuts

Actors Celebrate Their Broadway and Off-Broadway Debuts

By Lonnie Firestone

June 6, 2012


Photo by Nathan Johnson
Jeremy Jordan in "Bonnie & Clyde"
Tucked into the busy theater awards season, just after the Drama Desks and just before the Tony’s, is an event called the Theatre World Awards. While unknown to most audiences, the award is deeply significant to its recipients: actors who have made an outstanding achievement in a Broadway or Off-Broadway debut.

The awards were held on Tuesday evening at the Belasco Theatre, current home to the Broadway production “End of the Rainbow.” The event featured seasoned theater stars – including former Theatre World Award winners – celebrating this year’s talented newcomers.

Among them was Finn Wittrock who accepted an award for his performance in this season’s revival of “Death of a Salesman.” Philip Seymour Hoffman who presented the award to his “Salesman” co-star, offered Wittrock the following praise: “[Finn] set the bar for a part that was set back in the forties. I think he’ll set the bar for every part.”

The winners were announced before the ceremony so the room possessed a calm uncommon in most awards presentations. It was an event “free of anxiety and disappointment!” said actor John Cullum, a presenter at the event and a Theatre World Award recipient from 1966.

Nearly all of the presenters shared a special relationship with their awardees. Cullum, who starred in the original production of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” gave the award to Jessie Mueller, who starred in a revival of the same show this season. David Alan Grier awarded his co-star Philip Boykin from “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and Wesley Taylor, a 2009 award recipient for his role in “Rock of Ages,” presented an award to former understudy Jeremy Jordan for his performance in “Bonny & Clyde.”

The other 2012 awardees were Tracie Bennett (“End of the Rainbow”), Crystal A. Dickinson (“Clybourne Park”), Russell Harvard (“Tribes"), Joaquina Kalukango (“Hurt Village”), Jennifer Lim (“Chinglish”), Chris Perfetti (“Sons of the Prophet”), Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), and Hettienne Park (“Seminar” and “The Intellectual Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures”). Stacy Keach, currently starring in “Other Desert Cities” on Broadway, presented the Dorothy Loudon Award to Susan Pourfar for her role in “Tribes.”

In their acceptance speeches, many award winners combined thankfulness with self-mocking humor. Tracie Bennett laughed about having “a debut at my age,” and Josh Young expressed his thanks to Jesus Christ, “despite my Judaism.” One of the most memorable speeches came from Russell Harvard, a deaf actor who stars in the play “Tribes” as a deaf man within a hearing family. In his remarks, Harvard referenced a moment in the show that encapsulates his gratitude. Every evening as the lights go dark in the theater and the music swells to a crescendo, he silently mouths the words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Woven throughout the event were musical performances from Howard McGillin, Stephanie Umoh, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Michael Cerveris. Ceveris closed the ceremony with a rendition of “Pinball Wizard” from “The Who’s Tommy,” the show for which Cerveris won his own Theatre World Award in 1993.

“Community” is a term that nearly every recipient invoked in their acceptance speech. It made the award not only a testament to individual talents, but also an open door to an esteemed circle of theater talents. With past recipients like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews, and Bernadette Peters, the award may be a harbinger of a promising career. As David Alan Grier said to all of the awards winners, “Welcome to Broadway. Stay here. Live for a while.”


Actors Celebrate Their Broadway and Off-Broadway Debuts

By Lonnie Firestone

June 6, 2012


Jeremy Jordan in "Bonnie & Clyde"
PHOTO CREDIT
Nathan Johnson
Tucked into the busy theater awards season, just after the Drama Desks and just before the Tony’s, is an event called the Theatre World Awards. While unknown to most audiences, the award is deeply significant to its recipients: actors who have made an outstanding achievement in a Broadway or Off-Broadway debut.

The awards were held on Tuesday evening at the Belasco Theatre, current home to the Broadway production “End of the Rainbow.” The event featured seasoned theater stars – including former Theatre World Award winners – celebrating this year’s talented newcomers.

Among them was Finn Wittrock who accepted an award for his performance in this season’s revival of “Death of a Salesman.” Philip Seymour Hoffman who presented the award to his “Salesman” co-star, offered Wittrock the following praise: “[Finn] set the bar for a part that was set back in the forties. I think he’ll set the bar for every part.”

The winners were announced before the ceremony so the room possessed a calm uncommon in most awards presentations. It was an event “free of anxiety and disappointment!” said actor John Cullum, a presenter at the event and a Theatre World Award recipient from 1966.

Nearly all of the presenters shared a special relationship with their awardees. Cullum, who starred in the original production of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” gave the award to Jessie Mueller, who starred in a revival of the same show this season. David Alan Grier awarded his co-star Philip Boykin from “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and Wesley Taylor, a 2009 award recipient for his role in “Rock of Ages,” presented an award to former understudy Jeremy Jordan for his performance in “Bonny & Clyde.”

The other 2012 awardees were Tracie Bennett (“End of the Rainbow”), Crystal A. Dickinson (“Clybourne Park”), Russell Harvard (“Tribes"), Joaquina Kalukango (“Hurt Village”), Jennifer Lim (“Chinglish”), Chris Perfetti (“Sons of the Prophet”), Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), and Hettienne Park (“Seminar” and “The Intellectual Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures”). Stacy Keach, currently starring in “Other Desert Cities” on Broadway, presented the Dorothy Loudon Award to Susan Pourfar for her role in “Tribes.”

In their acceptance speeches, many award winners combined thankfulness with self-mocking humor. Tracie Bennett laughed about having “a debut at my age,” and Josh Young expressed his thanks to Jesus Christ, “despite my Judaism.” One of the most memorable speeches came from Russell Harvard, a deaf actor who stars in the play “Tribes” as a deaf man within a hearing family. In his remarks, Harvard referenced a moment in the show that encapsulates his gratitude. Every evening as the lights go dark in the theater and the music swells to a crescendo, he silently mouths the words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Woven throughout the event were musical performances from Howard McGillin, Stephanie Umoh, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Michael Cerveris. Ceveris closed the ceremony with a rendition of “Pinball Wizard” from “The Who’s Tommy,” the show for which Cerveris won his own Theatre World Award in 1993.

“Community” is a term that nearly every recipient invoked in their acceptance speech. It made the award not only a testament to individual talents, but also an open door to an esteemed circle of theater talents. With past recipients like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews, and Bernadette Peters, the award may be a harbinger of a promising career. As David Alan Grier said to all of the awards winners, “Welcome to Broadway. Stay here. Live for a while.”
 
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