|Theatre World Awards
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Posted: May 21, 2012
by Ted Greenberg
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Los Angeles experiences Award Season in January and February while May and June, the end of the theatrical year, is the time in New York. Last week, I wrote about my wishes for Baba Brinkman at the Drama Desk Awards. Today, I take a look at the Theatre World Awards.
Since 1945, the Theatre World Awards have been presented “to six actors and six actresses for their significant debut performances in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production.” The actual ceremony — which is invite only — is one of the most joyous and engaging in the world. Why? Because every winner knows that he or she is receiving the award when they show up. There are no losers or artists vying for the same award.
Additionally, the awards are hosted by the genial and funny New York theatre critic Peter Filichia. Former Theatre Award winners, though, present the actual award to the winners, and tell very personal and engaging stories about working with or knowing the recipients. For example, two years ago, Vanessa Williams, who took home the trophy for her 1985 performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman, presented the award to her Ugly Betty co-star Michael Urie for his performance in The Temperamentals. Meryl Streep and her two daughters, Mamie Gummer and Grace Gummer, have all received the award as well.
At this year’s ceremony, two performers stand out for me: Joaquina Kalukango (Hurt Village) and Hettienne Park (Seminar and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures). Kalukango was a standout in the high energy, incisive play about a Memphis housing project and its inhabitants right before its demolition. As a very young teenaged rapper named Cookie, Kalukango was the heart and soul of the play; her insightful observations packed both a comic and heartbreaking punch. She was world weary at 13. It was a beautiful performance, one that has also earned her a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.
Park was in two very different plays this season. I really enjoyed Seminar, which is Theresa Rebeck’s look at a writers group and its egomaniacal teacher. Alan Rickman starred in the play for most of its run, but I caught the superb Jeff Goldblum as the teacher. Park plays a woman who is willing to use whatever gifts she has to get ahead. Her comic timing was brilliant, and often, surprising.
Congratulations to Joaquina Kalukango and Hettienne Park for their Theatre World Awards. Both are well deserved.
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