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Drama League Awards 2016: Special Recognition Honors

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

The Drama League has announced the three recipients of the 2016 Special Recognition Awards. Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winner Sheldon Harnick will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award. Olivier Award winner Ivo van Hove will be honored with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing, and lastly, Deaf West Theatre will be awarded the Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award.


Drama League Executive Director Gabriel Shanks commented:

"Although we are technically the ones bestowing these honors, it feels like they are actually honoring us. Sheldon Harnick is a theatrical legend whose impact on our art form is indelible. Deaf West Theatre has enriched the cultural lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals for over two decades, and we are excited to recognize their innumerable contributions to the American theater. And we are thrilled to honor innovative director Ivo van Hove for his excellent work across the globe, including this season's productions of A View From the Bridge and The Crucible on Broadway, Antigone at BAM, and Lazarus at New York Theatre Workshop."

The 82nd Annual Drama League Awards ceremony will take place on 20 May 2016 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The nominations for the five other Drama League Awards categories - Outstanding Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Musical and the Distinguished Performance Award - will be announced at Sardi's restaurant on 20 April 2016.

First awarded in 1922 and formalized in 1935, The Drama League Awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America. They are the only major theatergoer awards chosen by audience members — specifically, by the thousands of Drama League members nationwide who attend Broadway and off-Broadway productions.

The first Drama League Award was presented to Katharine Cornell in 1935. Since then, the Distinguished Performance Award has been accorded to a roster of theatre legends such as Audra McDonald, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Liev Schreiber, Sir John Gielgud, Harvey Fierstein, Cherry Jones, Alec Guinness, James Earl Jones, Julie Harris, Helen Hayes, Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker, Sir Ian McKellen, Bernadette Peters, and Christopher Plummer.

Deaf West Theatre was last represented on Broadway by the 2015 revival of 'Spring Awakening.' The company has previously staged the 2003 Broadway revival of 'Big River,' as well as regional productions of 'Pippin,' 'Sleeping Beauty Wakes,' 'Oliver!,' 'Cyrano,' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' Under the artistic direction of David J. Kurs, Deaf West Theatre productions are "renowned for weaving American Sign Language with spoken English to create a seamless ballet of movement and voice, thereby creating a fully inclusive theatrical experience for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing audiences."

Sheldon Harnick is a performer, writer, lyricist and composer. He has earned Tony Awards for his lyrical contributions to 'Fiddler on the Roof' (1965) and 'Fiorello!' (1960) (with the latter also earning him a Pulitzer Prize), as well as Tony nominations for ' Cyrano - The Musical' (1994), 'The Rothschilds' (1971), 'The Apple Tree' (1967), and 'She Loves Me' (1964).

Ivo van Hove is currently represented in Broadway's 2015-2016 season by his directorial duties on 'A View from the Bridge' and 'The Crucible.' His off-Broadway credits include 'Lazarus,' 'Alice in Bed,' 'More Stately Mansions,' 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' 'Hedda Gabler,' 'The Misanthrope,' and 'The Little Foxes.' In London, he won an Olivier Award in 2015 for his staging of 'A View from the Bridge.'

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