Who better than an actors' union to bestow awards for new talents showing the highest promise? That's what the Foundation of Actors' Equity has been doing for 55 years with its annual Clarence Derwent Awards. Just announced are this year's "royal" winners, Aida's Sherie Rene Scott and The Green Bird's Derek Smith.
The Derwent Awards, announced May 23, will be given out at a 2 PM ceremony, June 13, at the Actors' Equity offices on West 46th Street. Winners were announced May 23 by Carl Harms, award trustee and Equity Foundation president.
Scott was chosen for playing Princess Amneris, the fashion-obsessed but lovelorn fiancee of Radames in the Elton John-Tim Rice musical, Aida. Smith was honored both for Off-Broadway's King John and his tormented (and lascivious) king in Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal's updating of Carlo Gozzi's farce, The Green Bird.
Last season's Derwent winners were You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown's Kristin Chenoweth and Side Man's Robert Sella.
The Derwent Awards honor most promising male and female performers on the metropolitan scene. Smith and Scott will each receive $1,000 and a crystal trophy at the awards ceremony Established in 1944 by actor Clarence Derwent, the Derwent Awards have honored such performers as George C. Scott, Frances Sternhagen, Dana Ivey, Gene Wilder and James Woods.
Judges for the 55th annual Derwent Awards were nearly the same as they were for the past two season: Foundation president Harms, critics Irene Backalenick (Back Stage), Clive Barnes (NY Post), Michael Kuchwara (AP) and Michael Sommers, Douglas Watt (NY Daily News), Betty Corwin (of the NY Public Library's Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts' Film & Tape Archive), librettist Peter Stone and producer Robert Whitehead. The only change? New Equity president Patrick Quinn, taking over for previous president Ron Silver.