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2011 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Announced: Robin Wagner to receive the Robert L. B. Tobin Award and Lewis Brown to receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award

Date: Feb 22, 2011
Press Release


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Three-time Tony Award-winning scenic designer ROBIN WAGNER and esteemed costume designer LEWIS BROWN are among the 2011 TDF/Irene Sharaff Award recipients. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, April 8 at 6:30pm at the Hudson Theatre (145 West 44th Street).  Mr. Brown was selected to receive the 2011 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design, and Tony Award-winning scenic designer Robin Wagner will receive the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design. Sadly, Mr. Brown passed away in January of 2011.  His award will be accepted by his long-time colleague and friend, Albert Wolsky, who was the recipient of the 2010 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to Mr. Wagner’s Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design and Mr. Brown’s TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, costume designer OLIVERA GAJIC will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, and famed theatre costume house MICHAEL-JON COSTUMES will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award.

During the ceremony, as a special memorial tribute to legendary designer CHARLES LEMAIRE, there will be a screening of an original 15-minute film on his life, created by designer SUZY BENZINGER and theatre director DREW SCOTT HARRIS.

The TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards were selected by the TDF Costume Collection's Advisory Committee and are presented through Theatre Development Fund's Costume Collection.

Throughout her long and distinguished career, elegance and an attention to detail were the trademarks of costume designer IRENE SHARAFF. Miss Sharaff was revered as a designer of enormous depth and intelligence, equally secure with both contemporary and period costumes. Her work exemplified the best of costume design. Such excellence is demonstrated by the 2011 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awardees.
ROBIN WAGNER (Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design).  Since Robin Wagner designed the Broadway production of Hair, his personal style of large-scale, fast-moving, automated scenery has set a standard for contemporary theatre design in America. Nominated ten times for Tony Awards, Mr. Wagner has won three times: The Producers (2001), City of Angels (1990) and On the Twentieth Century (1978).

Born in 1933, he went to art school in San Francisco and then began working in the city’s many small theatres. He arrived in New York in 1958 and has never left.  At that time the Off Broadway movement was at its peak.  He worked on 17 Off Broadway shows.  He then became assistant to designer Ben Edwards and then to the legendary Oliver Smith.  He worked as Mr. Smith’s assistant on 110 in the Shade (1963), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Luv (1964) and Baker Street (1965) before setting out on his own.

His first Broadway credit was in 1967 when he designed the sets for The Condemned of Altona.  In total he has created the scenic design for 50 Broadway shows, including:  Young Frankenstein (2007), A Chorus Line (revival, 2006), Never Gonna Dance (2003), The Boy from Oz (2003), Flower Drum Song (revival, 2002), The Producers (2001), The Wild Party (2000), Kiss Me Kate (revival, 1999), Saturday Night Fever (1999), Side Show (1997), The Life (1997), Big (1996), Victor/Victoria (1995), Angels in America (1993), Jelly’s Last Jam (1992), Crazy for You (1992), City of Angels (1989), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), Chess (1988), Teddy & Alice (1987), Dreamgirls (revival, 1987), Song and Dance (1985), Merlin (1983), Dreamgirls (1981), 42nd Street (1980), Comin’ Uptown (1979), Ballroom (1978), scenic and sound design for On the Twentieth Century (1978), Hair (revival, 1977), A Chorus Line (1975), Mack & Mabel (1974), Full Circle (1973), Seesaw (1973), Lysistrata (1972), Sugar (1972), Inner City (1971), Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), Lenny (1971), The Engagement Baby (1970), Gantry (1970), My Daughter, Your Son (1969), The Watering Place (1969), Promises, Promises (1968), The Great White Hope (1968), The Cuban Thing (1968), Lovers and Other Strangers (1968), Hair (1968), The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1967) and Galileo (1967).

In production are Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus' Kristina från Duvemala and the Broadway-bound Leap of Faith. His work has traversed the stages from opera, film, dance to rock and roll, including: the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the Swedish Royal Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and the Royal Opera at Covent Garden.

In addition to his three Tony Awards, Mr. Wagner’s other honors include six Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, Canada's Dora Award, a Maharam Award, a Lumen Award for the Rolling Stones' Tour of the Americas and numerous others.  Mr. Wagner is a trustee of the Joseph Papp Public Theater and has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

LEWIS BROWN (TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award) got his start as a designer in television when he moved to New York City from California in the early 1950s.  Soon he was doing costume design for theatre, opera and ballet.  He made his NY design debut at City Ballet with Medea in 1958. Mr. Brown’s first Broadway venture came in 1967 with the legendary production of Marat/Sade.  His other Broadway shows include: Jimmy Shine (1968), Fire! (1969), A Flea in Her Ear (1969), Mule Bone (1991) and The Government Inspector (1994).  Mr. Brown also designed the Off Broadway production of The Dream on Monkey Mountain (1971).

Since 1980 he designed extensively at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego for these productions: Resurrection Blues (2007), The Constant Wife (2006),  As You Like It (2004), Julius Caesar (2003), Rounding Third (2003), Faith Healer (2002), The Taming of the Shrew (2002), Cymbeline (1999), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1999), Paramour (1998), Henry IV (1995), The Way of the World (1994), The Merchant of Venice (1991), Hamlet (1990), Our Town (1990), And a Nightingale Sang… (1990), Measure for Measure (1989), Coriolanus (1988), Antony & Cleopatra (1987), Intimate Exchanges (1987), Othello (1984), Rashomon (1980), among others. Mr. Brown also designed extensively at other regional theatres such as Seattle Rep, the Guthrie Theatre, the Stratford Festival, American Conservatory Theater and Arizona Theatre Company.

He has won a number of awards for his designs over the years, including a Drama-Logue Award for Candide (1995) and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Cyrano de Bergerac (1973).

OLIVERA GAJIC (TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award) is a New York-based costume designer who has also received the 2010 IT Award for Outstanding Costume Design and the 2004 National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communication Group Career Development Program for Designers.

During the past year, she designed the costumes for: Clybourne Park and Henry V (The Juilliard School), Futura (NAATCO), Intimate Apparel (Two River Theatre Company), Underneathmybed (Rattlestick Productions), Macbeth (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Dot (Clubbed Thumb) and New Islands Archipelago (Talking Band Productions). Ms. Gajic has been part of the U.S. National Exhibit at the 2004 & 2007 Prague Quadrennial and Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance at Lincoln Center. Ms. Gajic designs costumes for theater, opera, dance and film.  She designs extensively for the Berkshire Theatre Festival, as well as the Juilliard School Drama, Dance and Vocal Arts Divisions.  Her work is seen in New York theatres and regionally throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. Originally hailing from Serbia, it was there that she earned her BFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade and began her international career.  Her celebrated work and continual thirst for knowledge brought her to the U.S., where she received her MFA from the University of Connecticut. She is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA-829.

MICHAEL-JON COSTUMES (TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award). Michael Stanton, the late Jon Rager and Thomas Slack began working together at Brooks-Van Horn Costume Company in the early 1970s before forming their own company in 1976. Over the next three decades, Michael-Jon built costumes for countless ice shows and tours of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, Easter and Christmas Spectaculars for Radio City Music Hall, dance pieces for the Joffrey Ballet and Eliott Feld, regional productions for the San Francisco Opera, Dallas Summer Musicals, the Kennedy Center and even children’s tours for Nickelodeon. Broadway credits include: 42nd Street, Barnum, Frankenstein, Amadeus, The Little Prince, The Last Minstrel Show, My One & Only, Moose Murders, A Streetcar Named Desire (1988 revival with Blythe Danner), Black & Blue, Frank Langella’s Cyrano and Dance of the Vampires, as well as the national tours of The King & I (with Yul Brynner). In the mid-1980s, they were involved in several motion pictures, including Splash, Ghostbusters, Lust in the Dust, Purple Rose of Cairo, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Radio Days, Working Girl, Sweet Liberty and The Cutting Edge. Although Michael-Jon Costumes closed its doors in 2004, Stanton and Slack have continued to work together in the Radio City Music Hall’s costume shop since 2005, overseeing the annual remounts of the Christmas Spectacular.

CHARLES LEMAIRE (Memorial Tribute) was born in Chicago in 1897 and entered the theatre as a vaudeville actor.  He began his career in costume design in the theatre in 1919 with the Broadway production of Elise Janis and Her Gang, followed by Ziegfeld Follies of 1922. Among his Broadway credits are: George White’s Scandals of 1922, Little Nellie Kelly (1922), Sweet Adeline (1929), Strike Up the Band (1930), Of Thee I Sing (1931), Ziegfeld Follies of 1934, as well as numerous additional years designing for both Ziegfeld and George White.  Additionally, Mr. LeMaire designed costumes for Brooks Costume Company and headed its costume department until 1929, when he started his own firm.

After WWI service, Mr. LeMaire settled in Hollywood from 1943 to 1960, where he was the executive director of wardrobe at 20th Century Fox Studios.  His close to 90 costume designer credits include: Mother Wore Tights (1947), I’ll Get By (1950), David and Bathsheba (1951), What Price Glory (1952), The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955), The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), Woman Obsessed (1959) and Walk on the Wild Side (1962).

Mr. LeMaire’s Academy Award nominations include My Cousin Rachel with designer Dorothy Jenkins (1952), With a Song in My Heart (1952), The President’s Lady with designer Rene (1953), Desiree with designer Ree Hubert (1954), The Virgin Queen with designer Mary Wills (1955) and The Diary of Anne Frank with designer Mary Wills (1959).  He was awarded with three Oscars:  All About Eve with designer Edith Head (1950), The Robe with designer Emile Santiago (1953) and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955).

Charles LeMaire died in Palm Springs, California in June 1985 at the age of 88.

The awardees were selected by the TDF/Costume Collection's Advisory Committee, which is composed of leading members of the theatrical costume design community. They are: Kitty Leech, Chair; Gregg Barnes, Suzy Benzinger, Dean Brown, Stephen Cabral, Linda Fisher, Lana Fritz, Rodney Gordon, Desmond Heeley, Allen Lee Hughes, Holly Hynes, Carolyn Kostopoulos, Anna Louizos, Mimi Maxmen, David Murin, Sally Ann Parsons, Robert Perdziola, Gregory Poplyk, Carrie Robbins, Tony Walton, Patrick Wiley and David Zinn.

The TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, first presented to the legendary Miss Sharaff in 1993, is bestowed upon a costume designer who, over the course of his or her career, has achieved great distinction and demonstrated a mastery of the art. The award is presented to a designer whose work embodies those qualities of excellence represented in the lifework of Irene Sharaff: a keen sense of color, a feeling for material and texture, an eye for shape and form, and a sure command of the craft.  Such a designer's achievement may stem from work for the theatre, opera, dance or film or, as was true of Irene Sharaff, from all of them together.
Previous winners of the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award are: Desmond Heeley (1994), Miles White (1995), Alvin Colt (1996), Patricia Zipprodt (1997), Jane Greenwood (1998), Willa Kim (1999), Ann Roth (2000), Freddy Wittop (2001), Theoni V. Aldredge (2002), Jose Varona (2003), Anthony Powell (2004), Florence Klotz (2005), Lester Polakov (2006), Bob Mackie (2007), Robert Fletcher (2008), William Ivey Long (2009) and Albert Wolsky (2010).
The Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design not only honors the name of Robert Tobin but also symbolizes his passion, respect and esteem for the art of theatrical design. The recipient of this award has achieved a career so distinguished in theatrical design that his or her work becomes an example to all designers of the beauty, feeling and empathy that a designer creates through true mastery of this art. The Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatrical Design was first presented in 2004 to acclaimed set and costume designer Tony Walton. The award has since been presented to Robert O'Hearn (2005), Franco Zeffirelli (2006), Santo Loquasto (2007), John Conklin (2008), Bob Crowley (2009) and Ming Cho Lee (2010).
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award is presented to a designer whose work, beyond being promising, has come to fruition. The award, honoring a designer of distinction early in his or her career, is given in recognition of Irene Sharaff's wish to see young designers encouraged on their way to fully acknowledged success and excellence in the field. The TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award has been bestowed upon: Gregg Barnes (1994), Toni-Leslie James (1996), Paul Tazewell (1997), Martin Pakledinaz (1998), Suzy Benzinger (1999), Robert Perdziola (2000), Constance Hoffman (2001), Gregory Gale and Jonathan Bixby (2002), Anita Yavich (2003), Mirena Rada (2004), David Zinn (2005), Emilio Sosa (2006), Murrel Horton (2007), Fabio Toblini (2008), Clint Ramos (2009) and Alejo Vietti (2010).
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award recognizes an individual or company that has made an outstanding supportive contribution in the field of costume technology. Among those whom this award honors are assistant and associate costume designers, costume shops that take sketches and turn them into glorious and breathtaking realities, teachers who dedicate their lives to turning raw talent into professional accomplished designers and authors who create the texts and trade publications without which a designer could not function.
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Memorial Tribute was created to recognize, celebrate and remember those artists who pioneered the art of costume design, setting the standard for years to come. TDF believes that in reliving and reviewing the body of work of these artists, a new generation of designers is able to learn and grow, standing on the shoulders of the giants who went before them.
TDF Irene Sharaff Artisan Awards have been previously awarded to: Ray Diffen (1999), Woody Shelp (2000), Barbara Matera (2001), Paul Huntley (2002), Maria Brizzi/Grace Costumes (2003), Nino Novellino (2004), Vincent Zullo (2005), Martin Izquierdo (2006), Kermit Love (2007), Bessie Nelson (2008), Sally Ann Parsons (2009) and John David Ridge (2010); and the Memorial Tribute Award to Raoul Pene DuBois (1999), Lucinda Ballard (2000), Aline Bernstein (2001), Cecil Beaton (2002), Ruth Morley (2003), Lemuel Ayers (2004), Oliver Messel (2005), Lila De Nobili (2006), Rouben Ter-Arutunian (2007), Tanya Moiseiwitsch (2008), Irene Sharaff (2009) and Randy Barcelo (2010).
THE TDF COSTUME COLLECTION maintains an extensive inventory of more than 70,000 costumes and accessories for rental at discounted price by any not-for-profit theatre company, opera company, university, high school, church group, etc. Last year, the Collection, which is located at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in NYC, served organizations that produced 949 productions in 33 states. It stocks all periods and accepts donations from productions, institutions and individuals. These donations are tax-exempt to the degree allowed by law.

THE TOBIN THEATRE ARTS FUND (formerly The Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts) was founded by the late Robert L. B. Tobin, who was heir to one of the largest family fortunes in Texas.  Robert Tobin admitted to being a frustrated theatre designer with a need to be creative.  All through his academic years and early adulthood, he collected rare theatrical volumes, etchings, engravings and drawings. At the time of his 50th birthday in 1984, The Tobin Wing of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, was constructed specifically to provide a museum setting for the theatre arts. As such, the wing houses Robert Tobin's extensive collection of over 20,000 original models, scenic and costume designs, as well as some 8,000 rare and illustrated books.  This unprecedented collection of preliminary sketches, final renderings, maquettes, engravings and illustrated texts provides a visual history of theatre art from the Renaissance to the present.  The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund has underwritten the publication of the new book Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States, co-authored by Dr. Oscar Brockett, Margaret Mitchell and Linda Hardberger. This work is a lively, beautifully illustrated history of theatrical stage design from ancient Greek times to the present.
THE TOBIN THEATRE ARTS FUND exists to stimulate public interest in the art of the theatre designer through a far-reaching program of exhibitions, lectures and expansion of the collection at the McNay as well as to provide broad-based access to this collection. In its continuing effort to promote the art of the designer, the Fund also sponsors programs that offer students an opportunity to exhibit their work. It also funds visiting artists' programs to area colleges and universities and assists in the publication of monographs on individual designers.

THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND has played a unique role in strengthening live theatre and dance in New York City for the past 43 years. This not-for-profit service organization’s programs have filled over 78 million seats at discount prices (with theatre lovers who would normally not be able to attend live performance) and returned nearly two billion dollars in revenue to thousands of theatre, dance and music productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, voucher, access and education programs, as well as its Costume Collection, help to make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. TDF’s book, Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, has spurred a national conversation about the way playwrights and theatre companies interact. TDF recently launched the Official TKTS app for iPhone and Android, which has been embraced by theatre fans the world over.

This year's TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Ceremony is being generously underwritten by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.