Four theater artists have been named winners of the 51st annual Henry Hewes Design Awards: scenic designer Riccardo Hernandez (The Invisible Hand, New York Theatre Workshop), costume designer Paul Tazewell (Hamilton, The Public Theater), lighting designer Howell Binkley (Hamilton, The Public Theater) and sound designer Nevin Steinberg (Hamilton, The Public Theater), the latter of whom won in the category Notable Effects.
The Hewes Design Committee notes that “All honors for the 2015 awards were earned by artists working Off Broadway, marking the first time in the history of the awards that a Broadway production was not honored,” but it is a technical distinction for Hamilton, since the same designs are being used in its Broadway production.
Three of the four are first-time Henry Hewes Design Award honorees. Binkley was previously honored in 2006 for his lighting design for Jersey Boys.
The Hewes Awards were given for work done in the calendar year 2015, but the awards will not be bestowed until a luncheon in fall of 2016.
According to press notes, ”These annual awards honor designers for work in venues on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, recognizing not only the traditional categories of Scenic Design, Costume Design and Lighting Design, but also ‘Notable Effects,’ which encompass sound, music, video, puppetry and other creative elements. All nominated designs must have originated in United States productions. The Hewes Awards Committee considered more than 200 productions when making its nominations..”
Originally known as the Maharam Awards at their inception in 1965, the Hewes Awards were later known as the American Theatre Wing Design Awards in honor of the Wing’s sponsorship. They were renamed in 1999 for noted critic Henry Hewes, who created the awards and served as a board member of the American Theatre Wing until his death in 2006 at age 89.
This year's Henry Hewes Design Awards Committee included theatre critics Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, chair; Dan Bacalzo; David Barbour; David Cote; Glenda Frank; Helen Shaw and Michael Sommers.