Hairspray’s Kerry Butler and Take Me Out’s Denis O’Hare have been chosen to receive the award, which honors “the most promising female and male performances on the New York metropolitan scene.” Actors from both Broadway and Off-Broadway productions are eligible, and the award — an engraved crystal trophy — also comes with a $1,000 cash prize.
Kerry Butler currently plays the role of Penny Pingleton in the hit musical Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre. She has also starred on Broadway as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Eponine in Les Misérables and Ms. Jones in Blood Brothers. Off-Broadway she was seen in Bat Boy The Musical, The “I” Word, Prodigal and The Folsom Head.
Denis O’Hare — a 2003 Tony Award nominee — portrays Mason Marzac in Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out at the Walter Kerr Theatre. His other Broadway credits include Major Barbara, Cabaret and Lincoln Center’s Racing Demon. Off-Broadway O’Hare was seen in Helen, Woyzec, Silence, Cunning, Exile, Ten Unknowns, Vienna Lusthaus, The Devils, The Arabian Nights, Lonely Planet and Hauptmann.
Established in 1944 by actor and former Actors’ Equity Association President Clarence Derwent, The Derwent Awards are the oldest awards on Broadway. Past recipients include Annette Bening, Kristin Chenoweth, Calista Flockhart, Gene Hackman, Dana Ivey, John Malkovich, Ann Reinking, George C. Scott, Frances Sternhagen, Gene Wilder and James Woods.
This year’s panel of judges included Clive Barnes, New York Post; Irene Backalenick, Back Stage; Betty Corwin, Director of Special Projects, Theatre on Film and Tape Collection of the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts; Charles Isherwood, Variety; Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press; Patrick Quinn, President of Actors' Equity; David Rosenberg, Back Stage; Michael Sommers, Newhouse Newspapers; Douglas Watt, The Daily News, and Carl Harms. The awards presentation will be held June 10 at the Eastern Regional Board meeting of Actors’ Equity Association at the Equity offices on West 46th Street.