|Photo by Monica Simoes|
The next awards also featured close relationships. Meg Bussert, leading lady in the 1980 revivals of both The Music Man and Brigadoon and now an N.Y.U. professor, presented the award with immense pride to one of her favorite graduate students, Ruthie Ann Miles of Here Lies Love. Crystal A. Dickinson — a winner last year for Clybourne Park — presented the award to her husband Brandon J. Dirden for his performance as Boy Willie in the Signature Theatre production of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson.
Other winners included Bertie Carvel of Matilda, presented by Daniel Gerroll (Slab Boys); Valisia LeKae of Motown, presented by Tartaglia; Conrad Ricamora of Here Lies Love, presented by Lea Salonga (who described how impressed she was watching Ricamora when he was in the ensemble of the tryout of her upcoming show, Allegiance); Carrie Coon of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, who turned out to be very much unlike her performance of Honey might lead you to expect, presented by Jennifer Lim (Chinglish); Keala Settle of Hands on a Hardbody, presented by close friend and mentor Tony Sheldon (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert); Yvonne Strahovski of Golden Boy, presented by Christine Lahti (who received her award for the early Mamet play, The Woods); Shalita Grant of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, who gave an especially touching speech, presented by Jackie Hoffman; and Tom Sturridge of the little-seen Orphans, presented by Thom Christopher (Noël Coward in Two Keys).
The several entertainment segments — from past winners Wesley Taylor (Rock of Ages), Philip Boykin (Porgy and Bess) and Isabel Keating (The Boy from Oz) — were less than helpful, as the intermissionless evening ran past the 2:40 mark. Otherwise, the presentation was well put together, altogether lovely, and marked by heartfelt acceptance speeches without the usual award-show pressure of a stopwatch. Filichia also took the time to introduce past winners in the audience, including one of the awardees from the first ceremony in 1945, Bambi Linn of Carousel. As a novel touch, the little girls presenting the awards were not the four Matildas; rather, Jillian Lebling and Eliza Holland Madore came over from Once, across the street.
Highlights of the evening included two special presentations. The Dorothy Loudon Award, honoring the beloved actress and 1963 winner, went to Jonny Orsini of The Nance. Nathan Lane, his costar and apparently an enormous fan of the young actor, lavished praise on Orsini while pointing out that he, himself, never received a Theatre World Award. He also garnered the evening's biggest laugh, when he entered through the Pippin circus tent and said, "I love this set, I feel like I'm in Madonna's bedroom." The evening was capped with a standing ovation as Alan Alda won the John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement. Alda described how winning the award at the start of his career — in 1964, for the one-week flop Fair Game for Lovers — meant so much to him as he struggled to maintain an acting career, a sentiment echoed by many of the winners past and present.
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