Theatre World Awards For Debut Performances Breaks 75-Year Tradition For Pandemic Season, Will Honor Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald & André De Shields

EXCLUSIVE: For the first time in 75 years, New York’s Theatre World Awards honoring debut performances will bypass its annual awards ceremony this year – a reflection of the city’s absence of live shows during the 15-month Covid shutdown – and instead present a one-night-only virtual event honoring Broadway’s best, including special honorees Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, and André De Shields.

The special event will be hosted virtually by on Sunday, July 11 at 7 pm/ET, with a free stream available at the website. All proceeds from the event will go toward presenting next year’s event – the 76th Theatre World Awards, set for June 2022 – in person.

The announcement was made today by the Theatre World Awards and producers Tom D’Angora, Michael D’Angora and Tim Guinee. Tom D’Angora and Michael D’Angora direct this year’s event, which will include appearances and performances by previous award winners.

“When the universe allows, we will bestow Theatre World Awards to twelve New York stage newcomers who made their significant debuts On or Off-Broadway in the 2021-2022 season, with special honors to those who made their debuts in 2019- 2020,” said Dale Badway, Theatre World Awards president.

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This year, the awards will honor both LuPone (who will star in the upcoming Broadway revival of Company) and De Shields (returning soon to Hadestown) with the 8th Annual John Willis Awards for Lifetime Achievement in The Theatre for their ongoing excellence in the theater.

Six-time Tony winner McDonald will receive the Dorothy Loudon Special Award for Excellence in the Theater to honor her overall excellence and contribution to the theater world.

“The 8th John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and the 12th Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater, triumphantly celebrate the ongoing excellence in theatre during these challenging times,” Badway said. “We look forward to celebrating the world of theatre at our 76th Theatre World Awards Ceremony in June 2022.”

First presented in 1945, the Theatre World Awards are the oldest awards given for Outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway debut performances. Previous winners include Meryl Streep, Rosemary Harris, Marlon Brando, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Liza Minnelli, Alan Alda, Zoe Caldwell, Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Al Pacino, Grace Kelly, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, Lupita Nyong’o and John Krasinski, among others.

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