Membership sale! Use promo code JOIN35 and save $7 (reg. $42). Sign up today! See if you qualify to join TDF.

Press & Media

Translate Page

2012 TDF Irene Sharaff Awards announced

Date: Mar 05, 2012
Press Release


Facebook Twitter




Special memorial tribute to WILLIAM and JEAN ECKART

Two-time Tony Award nominated costume designer CARRIE ROBBINS, and scenic, lighting, costume designer and educator LLOYD BURLINGAME are among the 2012 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards recipients. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, May 4, at 6:30pm, at the Hudson Theatre (145 West 44th Street).  Ms. Robbins was selected to receive the 2012 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design, and Mr. Burlingame will receive the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design.
Additionally, costume designer MATHEW LeFEBVRE will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, and famed author and designer LYNN PECKTAL, will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award. 

During the ceremony, as a special memorial tribute to legendary designers, the husband and wife team of WILLIAM and JEAN ECKART, there will be a screening of an original 15-minute film on their lives, created by designer SUZY BENZINGER.

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 winners of the 2012 TDF/Irene Sharaff awardees.

CARRIE ROBBINS (TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award). In a career spanning over 40 years as a costume designer, Carrie Robbins has designed the costumes for over 30 Broadway productions and received Tony Award nominations for her work on  Grease and Over Here! Her other Broadway productions include Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, A Class Act, The Shadow Box (revival 1994), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridgeclub, Sweet Bird of Youth, The First, Frankenstein, Happy End, Boys of Winter, Cyrano and  Secret Affairs of Mildred Wilde, among others. She has designed many shows for Lincoln Center Rep, Chelsea Theatre Center, Acting Co. and New York Shakespeare Festival. Regional credits include:  M. Butterfly (Arena Stage); Tempest (FIT Surface Design Award) and A Flea in Her Ear (LA Dramalogue Award) for the Mark Taper Forum; The Guthrie; Williamstown; Berkshire Theatre; Paper Mill; Seattle Rep; and others. Her opera credits include Death in Venice for Glimmerglass (’08 Prague International Design Exhibit), Samson et Dalila (SF Opera), Houston Grand Opera, Sarah Caldwell's Opera Co. of Boston, and Hamburg Staatsoper.  Film and television credits include In the Spirit, Saturday Night Live and PBS' Arts-in-America.

Known for her drawing ability, Ms. Robbins’ work is featured in the Time-Life Series Collectibles (between Telephones & Trivets). She has been profiled in: Costume Design, Techniques of Modern Masters (Pecktal, Watson-Guptil), Contemporary Designers (Editor: Colin Naylor, St. James Press, London) & LPTW/CUNY-TV’s Women in Theatre Series.

In addition to her two Tony Award nominations she has received five Drama Desk Awards, a Maharam Award, and two juried international awards. Other design work includes illustrations for children's books on Mozart and uniforms for The Rainbow Room and Windows on the World.

LLOYD BURLINGAME (Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design).  A scenery, lighting and costume designer and educator, Mr. Burlingame designed his first summer stock set at age 12 and at age 25 designed first Broadway musical (scenic and lighting design), an out of town flop, Lionel Bart’s Lock Up Your Daughters.  His first show Off Broadway, Leave it to Jane, a Jerome Kern musical (scenic design), was a hit and ran two plus years.  His favorite Off Broadway production, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (scenic design), was designed simultaneously with a season of plays for APA, Association of Producing Artists, the brain child of director/actor Ellis Rabb.  Burlingame designed scenery, lighting and costumes for five productions for them. He then provided all three design functions on Broadway for Philadelphia, Here I Come! For producer David Merrick, he designed a total of 13 plays on Broadway, not to mention serving as chief scenic and lighting assistant on three major musicals for that same producer.
Mozart operas were the true love of his life, and he designed eight productions of that genius’s works, the bulk of them for Maestro George Schick at the Manhattan School of Music’s John Brownlee Opera Theatre.  He also had the privilege of designing a combination of scenery, lights and/or costumes for major opera companies: new productions for divas Joan  Sutherland in Boston, Leontyne Price in San Francisco, Beverly Sills, also in Boston and Martina Arroyo in Cincinnati.

Ten years into his New York career, opportunity knocked, offering the chance to redesign the NYU School of the Arts fledgling Design Department.  With colleagues Oliver Smith and Fred Voelpel he created a school to nourish the individual talents of young designers by exposing them to a wide variety of design teachers -- all working professionals.   

After more than twenty years of busily designing on Broadway, Off Broadway, regionally and in opera, he turned all the design skills he had learned into coping with the gradual loss of almost all of his vision.  As his sight went ‘down on dimmer’, he turned to painting very large canvases and designing huge fabric collages, which had a major one man show at the Wadsworth Athaeneum in Hartford. It was ‘touchable art’ and the show was called “Once More with Feeling.”  He has written two books, a theatre memoir: Sets, Lights and Lunacy: A Stage Designer’s Adventures on Broadway and in Opera and Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan: A Love Story.  He has been the recipient of two Fulbright research grants for study abroad and has been awarded emeritus status as well as the “Distinguished Teaching Medal” by New York University.

MICHAEL LeFEBVRE (TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award) has been designing costumes for theatrical productions since 1987. He was born and raised in Minnesota. Like a character from a 1930’s musical, he grew up on a farm, but longed for a life in the theatre.  Although performing was his first love, he made a transition to design while in college.  He studied costume design for a year at UC Irvine, but unsure that costume design was indeed the right path, took some time off from his studies, but continued to work with a number of small theatre companies in Minneapolis.  He eventually received his MFA from The University of Minnesota.

Regional credits include productions for The Old Globe, The Geffen Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Trinity Rep. and Delaware Rep.  For The Milwaukee Rep. he designed a number of productions including A Flea In Her Ear, Tartuffe, and Cyrano de Bergerac, and for the Kansas City Rep including Jitney and Radio Golf.   He has designed over 20 productions for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis including A Christmas Carol, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Night of The Iguana, Pride and Prejudice, Sweeney Todd, Wintertime (scenery and costumes) and is currently in production on the musical adaptation of Roman Holiday.  He has designed more than 15 productions for the acclaimed Penumbra Theatre Company in Saint Paul, MN, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Raisin In The Sun, Fences, Get Ready, Two Trains Running, I Wish You Love, and Gem of the Ocean (scenery and costumes). Other Minnesota credits include The Children’s Theatre Company, The Jungle Theatre, Theatre de la Jeune Lune and the Minnesota Opera.

New York credits include Two Trains Running for Signature Theatre, Bach at Leipzig for New York Theatre Workshop, and The Spy and Romeo and Juliet for the Acting Company. A member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, Mathew J. LeFebvre is a Professor of Costume Design and the current Director of Theatre at the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 

LYNN PECKTAL (TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award) is the author of three acclaimed books: Designing and Painting for the Theatre, Designing and Drawing for the Theatre and Costume Design: Techniques of Modern Masters. He began designing scen¬ery professionally at Robert Virginia’s Porterfield’s Barter Theatre while still an undergraduate at Emory & Henry College. He did graduate work in stage design at the Yale School of Drama. For several years he was associated with Nolan’s Scenery Studios in New York and has taught stage design at Carnegie Mellon University (PA), and the North Carolina School of the Arts, and he has lectured at a number of universities. Shows for which Mr. Pecktal has designed the settings include the Sound and Light Show at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington (DC); Lucia di Lammermoor in Santiago, Chile; Don Pasquale and Naughty Marietta for the Cleveland Opera Company; and The Music Man for the Jones Beach Theatre on Long Island. He designed sets for seasons at the Trinity Square Repertory Company (RI), at the Ogunquit Playhouse (ME) and at the Pinehurst Playhouse (NC). Mr. Pecktal’s costumes were featured in the world premiere of Tennessee Williams’s Tiger Tail at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta (GA).

Mr. Pecktal won a Maharam Award for supervising Edward Gorey’s scenery for Dracula on Broadway, an assignment he repeated in London’s West End, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere. Other Broadway supervising credits include Home, Bosoms and Neglect, The Crucifer of Blood (also London and LA), Harold and Maude and Gorey Stories. He was awarded a place on Barter Theatre’s “Walk of Fame” for being the scenic designer for over 100 shows there. Currently, Mr. Pecktal is writing other books: Fashions for the Feet, Costumes Two and Scenic Designers.

WILLIAM and JEAN ECKART (Memorial Tribute) were a husband-and-wife team of theatre designers in the 1950s and '60s. They designed sets, costumes and lighting for dozens of productions. The Eckarts' Broadway career was relatively brief but prolific. Between 1951 and 1970, they designed the sets and/or lighting and costumes for 34 Broadway shows, three of which started Off Broadway, as well as seven other Off Broadway shows and five shows that started rehearsals for Broadway but never opened there (including two legendary titles, Reuben Reuben and A Mother's Kisses). For 16 of their Broadway shows, they also designed the lighting; for four, they also designed the costumes.

In addition, they designed several major regional productions and tours, three films (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, and The Night They Raided Minsky's) and several television productions, including the sets and costumes for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. They produced Once Upon a Mattress, as well as designing its sets and costumes. Some of the other famous Broadway shows they designed: The Golden Apple; Damn Yankees; Flora, The Red Menace; Mame; Fade Out-Fade In; Hallelujah, Baby!; Anyone Can Whistle; Li'l Abner; Never Too Late; She Loves Me; Anyone Can Whistle and Oh, Dad, Poor Dad.

They later taught at Southern Methodist University when they ended their design careers. William Eckart was born October 21, 1920 and died on January 24, 2000, aged 79. Jean Eckart was born on August 18, 1921, and died on September 6, 1993, aged 72.

The awardees were selected by the TDF/Costume Collection's Advisory Committee, which is comprised 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 life work 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 (1996), 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), Albert Wolsky (2010) and  Lewis Brown (2011).

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), Ming Cho Lee (2010) and Robin Wagner (2011).
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. 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), Alejo Vietti (2010) and Olivera Gajic (2011).

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 have 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), John David Ridge (2010) and Michael-Jon Costumes (2011); 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),Randy Barcelo (2010) and Charles LeMaire (2011).

THE TDF COSTUME COLLECTION maintains an extensive inventory of more than 75,000 costumes and accessories for rental at discounted price by any not-for-profit theatre company, opera company, university, high school, religious group, etc.  This fall, The Collection moved into its new 16,000 square foot home at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. This past year, The Collection served organizations that produced 1,078 productions in 30 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, expansion of the collection at the McNay and 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 (TDF), which recently received a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, is the largest nonprofit performing arts service organization in the United States, returning over $130 million to hundreds of productions annually through a variety of programs. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Created in 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 80 million people with access to performances at affordable prices.  Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access and education programs – as well as its Costume Collection – help to make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone.

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

(click below for downloadable image of Irene Sharaff)