Once they were called the Maharam Awards; then they were re- Christened the American Theatre Wing Design Awards, but now these honors will be renamed again, to honor a major New York critic. Starting this year, the ATW Design Awards will be called the Henry Hewes Design Awards, in deference to Hewes, who served as theatre critic of the Saturday Review of Literature from 1952-1977.
Tish Dace, who currently heads the Awards, announced the name change at a Philadelphia conference of the American Theatre Critics Association in early June. Hewes, physically frail and suffering from myasthenia gravis, nonetheless spoke to the assembled ATCA critics for an hour, recalling notable encounters with the likes of Noel Coward, John Simon and Joseph Papp.
Still a member of the Tony Awards Administration Committee, Hewes' previous credits include heading the New York Drama Critics Circle, helping change the Vernon Rice Awards into the Drama Desk Awards, editing three volumes of the Best Plays Annual series, and being one of the main founders of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT.
Fellow critic Chris Rawson, of Pittsburgh, recalled a story about Rosemary Harris about to do a cordial dinner with Hewes. When another actor objected and said, "you're having dinner with the enemy?", Harris apparently responded, "Henry was never the enemy."
-- by David Lefkowitz