The Theatre World Award is an American honor presented annually to actors and actresses in recognition of an outstanding New York City stage debut performance, either on Broadway or off-Broadway. It was first awarded for the 1945-46 theatre season.
The Inaugural recipients included Betty Comden, Judy Holliday and John Raitt. Winners are selected by a committee of New York-based critics. That committee includes (as of May 2015) Roma Torre (NY1), David Cote (Time Out New York, NY1), Joe Dziemianowicz (New York Daily News), Peter Filichia (The Newark Star-Ledger, Emeritus), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (TalkinBroadway.com), and Frank Scheck (New York Post).
John Willis, founder of the Theatre World Awards and Editor of theatre bible Theatre World, died in June 2010.
Known as "Janus" after the Roman god of entrances, exits, and all beginnings, the award is a bronze sculpture designed by artist Harry Marinsky.
Special honorary awards
The Dorothy Loudon Starbaby Award was instituted in 2009, named in honor of actress and singer Dorothy Loudon (1925–2003) and is awarded by the Dorothy Loudon Foundation in connection with these awards. The first Starbaby Award was presented to Susan Louise O'Connor (Blithe Spirit). Other recipients are Bobby Steggert (Ragtime and Yank!) (2009–10), Seth Numrich (War Horse) (2010–11), and Susan Pourfar (Tribes). In 2013, it was renamed Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater.
The first annual Lunt–Fontanne Award for Ensemble Excellence was presented at the 2010–11 Awards, to the cast of The Motherf**ker with the Hat – Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Annabella Sciorra, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Yul Vázquez. The award is in honor of the late Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and is presented to an outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway ensemble.
John Willis Award
A new award, the John Willis Award, was first instituted for the 2012–13 season. It is given for "lifetime achievement in the theatre" to honor John Willis who created and maintained the Theatre World tradition for 66 years, encouraging new talent in an often challenging business." The first recipient was Alan Alda.
The award ceremony
The winners for the 2010–11 season were announced on May 10, 2011, with a ceremony held on June 7; the awards are traditionally presented by former award winners. The awards for the 2011–11 season were announced on May 8, 2012 and presented at a ceremony held on June 5, 2012 at the Belasco Theatre.
The awards for the 2012–13 season were announced on May 7, 2013, and the 69th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony was held on June 3 at the Music Box Theater. The awards for the 2013–14 season were announced on May 6, 2014, and the ceremony was held on June 2, 2014 at Circle in the Square. The awards for the 2014–15 season were announced on May 5, 2015; the ceremony will be held on June 1, 2015 at the Lyric Theatre.
Past recipients, from 1944–45 to 2012–13