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Drama Desk Special Award

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Title: Drama Desk Special Award  
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Subject: Fahrenheit 451, Jule Styne, Claudette Colbert, Jessica Tandy, Rex Harrison, Richard Wilbur, Royal Shakespeare Company, Hume Cronyn, Annie Get Your Gun (musical), Noël Coward Theatre
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Drama Desk Special Award

The Drama Desk Special Award is presented by the Drama Desk, a committee comprising New York City theatre critics, writers, and editors. It is a non-competitive award that honors an individual or an organization that has made a significant contribution to Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, or legitimate not-for-profit theatre.

The special award was first presented at the 21st Annual Drama Desk Awards in 1975. The first recipients were Donald Sinden for London Assurance and Tovah Feldshuh for Yentl.


  • Hartman Theatre Company for Outstanding Contribution by a New Theater Company
  • Queens Theater in the Park for Outstanding Contribution by a New Theater Company
  • Off-Off Broadway Theater Movement for Outstanding Contribution to Theater


  • Stanley Lebowsky for musical direction and commitment to theater
  • Paul Davis and Frank Verlizzo for inspired art work for theatrical productions
  • Henry Cohen, Donald Rose, and Robert Kimball for rescuing classic Broadway scores
  • Actors' Equity for 75 years of championing the professional actor
  • Theatre on Film and Tape Archive for the preservation of our theatrical heritage
  • Yale Repertory Theatre for nurturing plays of significance
  • Michael Feinstein for celebrating American musical theater songs


  • The Fund for New American Plays for support of American playwrights and theaters
  • Jule Styne for a lifetime of glorious theater music
  • Kevin Haney for his makeup for Tru and other shows
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music for bringing international productions to New York
  • James McMullan for consistently inspired art work for theater
  • New Dramatists for decades of nurturing American playwrights
  • Harold Rome for his distinctive contribution to musical theatre
  • John A. Willis for fifty years of devotion to theater and its artists
  • Janet Hayes Walker for twenty-five years at the York Theatre Company
  • Eileen Atkins
  • Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
  • The Non-Traditional Casting Project


  • Paul Huntley for Lifetime Achievement
  • Billy Rosenfield for preserving musical theatre recordings
  • Mint Theater Company for presenting/preserving little known classics
  • Worth Street Theater Company for its Stage Door Canteen shows at Ground Zero
  • Keen Company for plays that build upon our theatrical heritage
  • The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival for fifty years of exceptional theater contributions
  • BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop for nurturing, developing, and promoting new talent for the musical theater
  • York Theatre Company for its vital contributions to theater by developing and presenting new musicals
  • Sh-K-Boom Records/Ghostlight Records for dedication to the preservation of musical theater through cast recordings

Source: Playbill[1]

  • John Kander and Fred Ebb "for forty-two years of excellence in advancing the art of the musical theatre"
  • Austin Pendleton - "a Renaissance man of the American theatre"
  • Transport Group "for its breadth of vision and its presentation of challenging productions"
  • Folksbiene (National Yiddish Theatre) "for preserving for ninety-two consecutive seasons the cultural legacy of Yiddish theatre in America."

Source: Playbill[2]

  • Edward Albee, "whose provocative plays, including this season's Peter and Jerry, enrich the American theater"
  • James Earl Jones, "a commanding force on the stage for nearly half a century"
  • Playwrights Horizons "for ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work"
  • 59E59 Theaters, "whose imaginative curatorial vision has created a stimulating environment to nurture a diverse range of artists"

Source: Variety[3]

  • Liza Minnelli, "a beloved musical theater icon, for her enduring career of sustained excellence, and her glorious performance in Liza's at The Palace...!"
  • Atlantic Theater Company and artistic director Neil Pepe "for exceptional craftsmanship, dedication to excellence and productions that engage, inspire and enlighten"
  • TADA! Youth Theater "for providing an invaluable contribution to the future of the theater. The company makes outstanding training and experience accessible and affordable to young people and mounts productions remarkable for their quality and professionalism"
  • Forbidden Broadway "at the end of its nearly three-decade run and the creators, casts, designers who made it an unparalleled New York institution cherished for its satire and celebration of Broadway"




  • The cast, creative team and producers of Horton Foote’s The Orphans' Home Cycle for "the breadth of vision, which inspired the exceptional direction, performances, sets, lighting, costumes, music and sound that made it the theatrical event of this season."
  • Jerry Herman "for enchanting and dazzling audiences with his exuberant music and heartfelt lyrics for more than half a century."
  • Godlight Theatre Company for "consistent originality and excellence in dramatizing modern literature, and especially for the vibrant theatricality of its innovative productions."
  • Ma-Yi Theater Company for "more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater."


  • Outstanding Ensemble - In Transit and The Normal Heart
  • A.R. Gurney - for "his enduring, keenly observed portraits of American life over a prolific four-decade-long career."
  • Reed Birney - "for versatile and finely nuanced performances over the past 35 years, and for his exceptional work this season in Tigers Be Still, A Small Fire and The Dream of the Burning Boy."
  • The New Group and Artistic Director Scott Elliott - "for presenting contemporary new voices, and for uncompromisingly raw and powerful productions."
  • The Pearl Theatre Company - "for notable productions of classic plays and nurturing a stalwart resident company of actors."
  • Creative team of War Horse - "for thrilling stagecraft: Paule Constable, Marianne Elliott, 59 Productions, Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Company, Tom Morris, Rae Smith, Christopher Shutt, Toby Sedgwick, Adrian Sutton and John Tams."

Source: Playbill[6]

  • Mary Testa - "For over three decades, she has dazzled audiences with consistently outstanding work, including her tour-de-force performance in this season's Queen of the Mist.
  • Nick Westrate - "His versatility in Unnatural Acts, Love's Labor's Lost, and Galileo was a highlight of the season."
  • New Victory Theater - "For providing enchanting, sophisticated children's theater that appeals to the child in all of us, and for nurturing a love of theater in young people."
  • Stephen Karam - newly created Sam Norkin Off Broadway Award: "The profoundly moving Sons of the Prophet confirmed his status as one of the most promising playwrights of his generation."
  • Outstanding Ensemble Performance - The cast of Sweet and Sad; Jon DeVries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders, and J. Smith-Cameron.


External links

  • Official Drama Desk Award website
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