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Chairman of TTM and Co-Chair of Awards, Stewart Lane;


Chairman of TTM and Co-Chair of Awards, Stewart Lane;
Presenter Pia Lindstrom and Co-Chair Bonnie Comley.
Photo by: Rob Rich/ 


The Theatre Museum
Awards for Excellence Gala


A warm reception greeted a star-studded array of honorees, presenters, guests and supporters of The Theatre Museum as they arrived at the elegant National Arts Club in Manhattan's Gramercy Park for the 2007 Awards for Excellence on Monday evening, October 29, 2007. Mingling in the gracious reception area of the historic building, guests enjoyed champagne and appetizers while a violinist and mime entertained and silent auction bids were being made. Dinner included smoked salmon, grilled lamb chops with baked potatoes and carrot mousse followed by a desert of fruit sorbets served in a chocolate-lined pastry cup.

Following dinner, the ceremony began with a warm welcome from O. Aldon James, Jr. president of the National Arts Club, and a piano medley from Show Boat performed by musical director Michael Lavine. Helen M. Guditis, president of The Theatre Museum, thanked the audience for its support in sustaining the legacy of theatre and shared a recap of The Theatre Museum's accomplishments and plans for the future. Event co-chairs and Broadway producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley expressed appreciation for the worthy contributions of the evening’s honorees and introduced Master of Ceremonies Jim Dale.

The first award was presented by television journalist Pia Lindstrom for the Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education by an Organization to Arts Horizons. She told the audience that almost 30 years ago founder John Devol and a group of his friends began voluntarily playing music for public school students. Since then an organization developed and has grown to provide professional arts programs to students throughout New Jersey and New York. Mr. Devol accepted the award with great enthusiasm.

James Naughton performed “I’ve Been Everywhere” from Street of Dreams, receiving a hearty ovation for his rapid-fire delivery. Following the song, he presented the Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education by an Individual to Carmen de Lavallade, with whom he had appeared at the beginning of his career. Ms. de Lavallade was pleased to receive the recognition for her work in education. She happily acknowledged that she has learned as much from her students as they have from her. As a tribute, she repeated her dance around him as he sang the beginning of that early song, which charmed everyone there.

Following this acceptance, Jim Dale and Jessica Grove´ performed a duet, “He Has a Way, She Has a Way,” from Busker Alley. Then Jim Dale presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ellen Burstyn. In addition to her theatre and film performances, Ms. Burstyn served as the first woman president of Actors Equity Association. She expressed gratitude for The Theatre Museum honor and emphasized the need for a home for the museum to help celebrate theatre's contributions to our culture.

On a lighter note, Tovah Feldshuh performed two hysterically funny songs, “Kaddish and Coffee” and “I Don’t Want to Get Thin,” which delighted the audience.

Ms. Guditis and Mr. Lane presented the Award for Excellence in Theatre History Preservation to Ben Brantley, chief theater critic for the New York Times. Mr. Brantley, appearing via videotape, shared that he first learned about theatre through such reviews of plays that were being presented when he was growing up. He acknowledged that he is a critic because he passionately loves theatre.

Kerry Butler, starring in Xanadu, performed "Suspended in time" from that show. Jim Dale closed the evening with a rendition of "Blow Us A Kiss" and "Paddle Your Own Canoe", then bid a heartflet good evening to the Theatre Museum's guests and supporters.

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