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York Theatre Company to Honor Tony Award Winner Andre De Shields at 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala

originally published: 08/28/2019

York Theatre Company to Honor Tony Award Winner Andre De Shields at 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala

(NEW YORK, NY) --  The York Theatre Company, dedicated to the development of new musicals and preserving musical gems from the past, will honor 2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields(Hadestown) with the 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre and producer Riki Kane Larimer (Cagney; Enter Laughing: The Musical) with The York Theatre Company Founders’ Award at the 28th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala, to be held on Monday evening, November 11, 2019 at The Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street).

The VIP Reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by a concert and award ceremony at 8:00 p.m. Michael Unger (York’s former Associate Artistic Director and recently appointed Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre in Wisconsin) is set to direct the evening’s celebration. For additional information, pricing and reservations, please contact Director of Development Shana Farr at (212) 935-5824, ext. 214 or sfarr@yorktheatre.org, or go online at YorkTheatre.org.

The Oscar Hammerstein Award is named in honor of the legendary lyricist and librettist who helped shape American musical theatre through his collaborations with a number of different composers and writers. His contributions to such landmark musicals as Show Boat, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and Carousel are a legacy for all time. The award was created in 1988 by Janet Hayes Walker, Founding Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company, with the endorsement of the Hammerstein family and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Its purpose is to recognize significant lifetime achievement in musical theatre, and it is presented at a gala evening held for the benefit of The York Theatre Company.

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his unanimously critically acclaimed performance as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On!, and The Full Monty. In a career spanning fifty years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off-Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. On August 19 of this year, His Honor Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presented him with the Key to the City of his hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. www.andredeshields.com

“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 James Morgan, York’s Producing Artistic Director. “We can't think of a better way to honor his fifty years in showbiz than with the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Musical Theatre. We are ecstatic to honor him for a career as 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.”



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Michael Unger (Director)is the newly-appointed Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, WI, now celebrating its 60th anniversary. He was until recently the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for The York Theatre Company. He is also the Producing Artistic Director of NewArts, a performing arts and character development initiative started in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy, for which he has directed a dozen productions. Credits for The York Theatre include last year’s Oscar Hammerstein Award Ceremony honoring Susan Stroman, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the Mufti presentations of Big: The Musical, Milk and Honey, and Knickerbocker Holiday. Other directing credits include A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre), Two Point Oh (Off-Broadway, NYT Critics’ Pick), Time Stands Still (Cape Cod Chronicle Best 2015), My Sister in This House (Deaf West, Ovation Recommended), Grease, Crimes of the Heart, and new versions of The Happy Time and The Rink. He has directed fourteen operas, two of which are available on DVD. World premieres include Caligula (NYMF, Best of Fest), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and A ROCKIN’ Midsummer Night’s Dream(featured in the documentary film Midsummer in Newtown). He is married to actress Janet Metz; their favorite collaboration is twins Phoebe and Nathaniel.

Past recipients of the Oscar Hammerstein Award include Stephen Sondheim, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Harold Prince, Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Herman, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Stone, David Merrick, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Terrence McNally, Cameron Mackintosh, Carol Channing, Tony Walton, Joseph Stein, George S. Irving, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, Thomas Meehan, Barbara Cook, Paul Gemignani, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Angela Lansbury, Joel Grey, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, and most recently five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.

The York Theatre Company Founders’ Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact on the sustainability of the Company, and of the arts. Past recipients of the award include Janet Hayes Walker, the Founding Artistic Director of the York, W. David McCoy, Sarah Tod Smith, Molly Grose, Robert Goldberg, Gerald F. Fisher, and Betty Cooper Wallerstein.

Riki Kane Larimer (Producer) hails from the world of housewares where her company, Metrokane, created and marketed the famous Rabbit Corkscrew. After selling Metrokane in 2014, she embarked upon a career in theater, where she co-produced the London production of Memphisfollowed by On the Town and Gigi on Broadway, the Off-Broadway productions of Georgie, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, and The York Theatre's productions of Cagney and Enter Laughing. Riki's major theatrical accomplishment is the widely acclaimed production of Cagney starring Robert Creighton, which started at The York, followed by a run at the Westside Theater, a stunning 15-month success, and is now in an expanded developmental production at The Pioneer Theatre (Salt Lake City, UT). She looks forward to bringing Cagney to The Great White Way. Riki is the Vice President of the Board of Directors at The York Theatre, and is a trustee on the Board of Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Long Island.

The York Theatre Company is the only theatre in New York City—and one of very few in the world—dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals and preserving neglected, notable shows from the past. For over four decades, York’s intimate, imaginative style of producing both original and classic musicals has resulted in critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences alike. Under the guidance of Producing Artistic Director James Morgan since 1997, The York has focused on new musicals in its Mainstage Series—most of them world, American, or New York premieres—by some of the field’s most esteemed creators and has also helped launch the careers of many talented new writers. Almost 40 cast recordings from The York Theatre Company productions are now available on CD, including its acclaimed revival of Closer Than Ever (2013 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revival); commercial transfers of such York premieres as The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), Souvenir (Tony Award Nomination for actress Judy Kaye), and Jolson & Company, and revivals of Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd (four Tony Nominations including Best Revival) have all showcased the importance of The York and its programs. Recent New York premieres have included Marry Harry, A Taste of Things to Come, and Rothschild & Sons. The critically-acclaimed musical Yank!, which received its Off-Broadway debut at The York in 2010, recently opened to rave reviews in London as did York’s Rothschild & Sons. The hit musical Cagney received its York premiere in 2015 and subsequently transferred to the Westside Theatre for over 15 months. Desperate Measures, the hit new musical from 2017, received a total of 14 award nominations that included “Best Musical” from the Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, Drama Desk and Off-Broadway Alliance and, subsequently, transferred across town to New World Stages. Unexpected Joy, which received its Off-Broadway premiere at the York, recently completed performances at London’s Southwark Playhouse. The acclaimed new musical Midnight at The Never Get received a collective total of 7 nominations from the Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Off-Broadway Alliance Awards. The 2019 Winter Musicals in Mufti series celebrated the centennial of lyricist/librettist Alan Jay Lerner, with the 1979 musical Carmelina, followed by the musical The Day Before Spring (1945), closing with the New York premiere of Lolita, My Love(1971). Recently Launching the York’s 50th Anniversary year was the recently-acclaimed revival of the hit musical Enter Laughing. The York is the recipient of a Special Drama Desk Award for “Developing and Producing New Musicals” and more recently an Outer Critics Circle Award for “50 Years of Producing New and Classic Musicals.”


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