The Mr. Abbott Award is named in honor of the late, renowned director George Abbott; the honor is presented to a director or choreographer in recognition of lifetime achievement. Past honorees have included Hal Prince, Susan Stroman, Lloyd Richards, Kathleen and Rob Marshall, Tommy Tune and Michael Bennett.
Of the selection, Karen Azenberg, president of SDC and Chairperson of the SDC Foundation Committee, said in a statement, "His artistry and vision as reflected in his body of work is enough of a reason to present George C. Wolfe with the Mr. Abbott Award for lifetime achievement. And yet SDCF also wishes to celebrate Mr. Wolfe for his impact on the field, both the non-profit as well as the commercial theatre. Through his craft and his industry leadership, Mr. Wolfe has influenced the cultural landscape, and the American theatre is stronger for his presence."
Wolfe added, "I am truly proud to be this year’s recipient of the ‘Mr. Abbott’ Award and overjoyed to have my name added to the astonishing list of past honorees."
George C. Wolfe's rise in the theatrical world began in 1989 when he won an Obie for his direction of his own play Spunk. Three years later he burst onto the Broadway scene with a Tony nomination for his direction of the hit musical Jelly’s Last Jam. He subsequently directed both parts of the landmark drama Angels in America (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) and won his first Tony Award for his direction of Millennium Approaches. He also served as the artistic director of the Public Theater from 1993 to 2004 and helped to develop new works. He won his second Tony Award for his direction of Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. He began directing for the screen with the HBO film "Lackawanna Blues" and made his feature film debut directing Richard Gere and Diane Lane in "Nights in Rodanthe." He has directed several major Broadway productions, including Topdog/Underdog; The Wild Party; Elaine Stritch At Liberty; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; A Free Man of Color; and the current Broadway production of The Normal Heart. Wolfe's additional awards and distinctions include the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s Calloway Award, four Obie Awards, the Dramatist Guild's Hull-Warner Award, a Bessie Award, the George Oppenheimer/Newsday Award, the Lambda Liberty Award and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award.