(The following information is from the Theatre World Web site: http://www.theatreworldawards.org/home.html.  This year the awards were presented on June 2.)

At an annual ceremony and during an afternoon party attended by former winners and invited members of the theatre community, six actresses and six actors are presented with a Theatre World Award for their Debut Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production.  

The Theatre World Award winners are chosen by the Theatre World Awards committee, which is comprised of David Cote (Time Out New York), Peter Filichia (Theatermania.com), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (TalkinBroadway.com), Frank Scheck (New York Post), Doug Watt (Critic Emeritus, New York Daily News), Linda Winer (New York Newsday), and coordinated by Peter Filichia, Theatre World Editor John Willis, and Theatre World Associate Editor Ben Hodges.

Winners 2009:

David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish (Billy Elliot, The Musical)

Chad L. Coleman (Joe Turner's Come and Gone)

Jennifer Grace (Our Town)

Josh Grisetti (Enter Laughing, The Musical)

Haydn Gwynne (Billy Elliot, The Musical)

Colin Hanks (33 Variations)

Marin Ireland (reasons to be pretty)

Susan Louise O'Connor (Blithe Spirit)

Condola Rashad (Ruined)

Geoffrey Rush (Exit the King)

Josefina Scaglione (West Side Story)

Wesley Taylor (Rock of Ages)

The cast of The Norman Conquests: Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan, Ben Miles, Paul Ritter, and Amanda Root (Special Award)

http://www.theatreworldawards.org/award.html

A Brief History of the Theatre World Award

The Theatre World Awards are presented annually at the end of the theatre season to six actors and six actresses for their significant debut performances in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. The ceremony is a private, invitation-only event followed by an afternoon party to celebrate the new honorees and welcome them to the Theatre World “family.” In what has become a highly entertaining and often touching tradition, 12 former winners serve as the presenters, and often relive moments from past ceremonies and share wonderful stories rarely heard at other theatrical awards.

In 1944, three young men who loved theatre, Daniel Blum, Norman McDonald, and John Willis, came up with the idea of a yearly celebration that would acknowledge "Promising Personalities"—twelve debut performances by actors appearing on Broadway. In the beginning, the ceremony was a simple cocktail party among friends in Daniel Blum’s sumptuous apartment with Blum presenting the award. In the first two years alone, a nod was given to performances by Betty Comden, Judy Holliday, and John Raitt, joined the following year by Barbara Bel Geddes, Marlon Brando, and Burt Lancaster.

At the 1949 party, Carol Channing won. A couple of years later she said to other “Promising Personalities” winners who were all attending a cocktail party prior to the one at Daniel’s, “We’d better get over to Daniel’s and support that Award because otherwise no one is gonna know who we are sixty years from now.”

As Off-Broadway became a potent force in New York theatre life, performances there became eligible for recognition as well as Broadway. Later, special awards would occasionally be presented to an entire cast of a production, or to an individual or organization that had made an outstanding contribution to the theatre that season.

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