Tony-winning actor and playwright Charlayne Woodard hosts The York Theatre Company’s 28th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala November 11 at the Edison Ballroom.
The evening honors veteran actor André De Shields with the 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre. De Shields, who celebrates his fifth decade as a professional theatre artist, garnered the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Awards for his performance as Hermes in the Tony-winning musical Hadestown. He made his acting debut in the 1969 Chicago production of Hair. He created the role of The Wiz in the 1975 hit musical The Wiz, which was followed by starring roles in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stardust, Play On!, The Full Monty, Prymate, and Impressionism.
Former York Associate Artistic Director Michael Unger directs the gala concert and awards presentation, which begins at 8 PM. Eric Svejcar is the musical director.
The celebration includes appearances by John Ellison Conlee, Robert Creighton, Darius De Haas, Jeffry Denman, Dawn Driver, Ekele Ukegbu, Mercedes Ellington, Teresa Eyring, Ron Lucas, Richard Maltby, Jr., Larry Owens, Tony Perry, Malvinna Rose, Marc Shaiman, Ben Vereen, Anita Welch, Freida Williams, Patrick Wilson, David Yazbek, and The Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble and features musical numbers from The Wiz, Hair, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and The Full Monty.
The York, with a mission to develop and produce new musicals, presents the annual Oscar Hammerstein Award with the endorsement of the Hammerstein family and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.
“André De Shields is a true man of the theatre, and it is a glorious coincidence that he began his career in 1969, the same year that The York was founded,” said York Producing Artistic Director James Morgan in an earlier statement. “We are ecstatic to honor him for a career as a performer that began with Hair and wound its way through Ain't Misbehavin' and into the current Hadestown, with detours into writing, directing, choreographing, and teaching. Nobody is more deserving.”
The November 11 gala also pays tribute to producer Riki Kane Larimer (Cagney, Enter Laughing: The Musical), who will receive The York Theatre Company Founders’ Award.