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2016 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Announced - Michael Yeargan and Susan Tsu among recipients

Date: Mar 31, 2016


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TDF Irene Sharaff Awardees

Legendary scenic and costume designer, MICHAEL YEARGAN (currently represented on Broadway with Fiddler on the Roof and The King and I), and costume designer SUSAN TSU are among the 2016 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards recipients. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, May 20, at 6:30pm, at the Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street).  Ms. Tsu was selected to receive the 2016 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design and Mr. Yeargan will receive the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design. The awards are presented through Theatre Development Fund's Costume Collection.
Additionally, costume designer SUTTIRAT LARLARB (currently represented on Broadway with Waitress and Finding Neverland) will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, and authors and designers LIZ COVEY and and the late ROSEMARY INGHAM will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award. 

“As we reviewed the list of awardees, the committee realized that in addition to their personal artistry, there was another common denominator,” said STEPHEN CABRAL, Director of TDF’s Costume Collection, which curates the awards, and Chair of the TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Voting Committee. “They all were currently teaching or had taught their craft at prestigious universities – doing the service of paying it forward to the next generation of designers. That’s what makes these awardees so special.”

During the ceremony, as a special memorial tribute to legendary costume and scenic designer DOROTHY JEAKINS, there will be a screening of an original 15-minute film on her life, created by designer SUZY BENZINGER.

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 2016 TDF/Irene Sharaff awardees.

SUSAN TSU (TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award) is currently a professor of Costume Design at Carnegie Mellon University. She has designed costumes for theatre, opera and television for over 40 years.  She designed costumes for the original Broadway production of Godspell. Other memorable productions include The Joy Luck Club (the first collaboration between Chinese and American companies – Long Wharf and Shanghai People’s Art Theatre), Pop (City Theatre), The Task (Quantum Theatre), The Greeks, Dracula: A Musical Nightmare and The Importance of Being Earnest (Alley Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear (Cincinnati Playhouse); Amadeus and The Royal Family (Pittsburgh Public Theater). Her more recent designs include Romeo and Juliet (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), As You Like It (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Pantagleize (Quantum Theatre) and Outside Mullingar (City Theatre). Some of the awards she’s garnered over the years have been the New York Drama Desk Award, New York Drama Critics Award, New York Young Film Critics Award, Los Angeles Distinguished Designer Award and a Kennedy Center Medal of Achievement.

MICHAEL YEARGAN (Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design), a legendary scenic and costume designer, Mr. Yeargan is the co-chair of the Design Department of the Yale School of Drama. He is currently represented on Broadway with the scenic designs for The King and I (Tony nomination) and Fiddler on the Roof.  He holds Tony Awards for his designs for South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza, and earned Tony nominations for Golden Boy, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Awake and Sing. Among his other Broadway credits are: The Bridges of Madison County, The Road to Mecca, Cymbeline, Awake and Sing!, The Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, Ah Wilderness!, Hay Fever, and The Ritz, among others.  He has designed extensively for opera, Off Broadway and regionally.

SUTTIRAT LARLARB (TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award) is an associate professor of Costume Design at Carnegie Mellon University. Her costumes are currently seen in the Broadway productions of Waitress and Finding Neverland.  She also provided costumes for the recent Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men. Other stage productions include Frankenstein, Royal National Theatre; The Killer, Theatre for a New Audience; Macbeth, Hartford Stage; Tape, The Lively Lad, Orange Lemon Egg Canary, Humana Festival. Her film and television work includes: Costume & Production Designer -  London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (Emmy Award); 127 Hours (Art Directors Guild nomination); Slumdog Millionaire (Costume Designers Guild Award); Trance; Sunshine; The American; The Extra Man; Cinema Verite (Emmy nomination); 10,000 Saints; The Good Lie, The Walk and Steve Jobs.

LIZ COVEY and ROSEMARY INGHAM (TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award) these two educators and designers, together wrote three seminal books on the art of Costume Design: The Costumer’s Handbook, The Costume Designer’s Handbook and The Costume Technician’s Handbook.  Additionally, Ms. Ingham wrote From Page to Stage: How Theatre Designers Make Connections Between Texts and Images. For their work they received the Golden Pen Award of the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology in 2004 and in 2006 Ms. Ingham received the institute’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.  Ms. Ingham taught at Southern Methodist University and at the University of Mary Washington. She died in 2008 at age 71.  Ms. Covey, who currently lives in New York City, is a member of the faculty of the Theatre Department at Barnard College, Columbia University, Marymount Manhattan College, and also teaches at Bennington College.

DOROTHY JEAKINS (Memorial Tribute) (1914-1995) was a distinguished costume designer for stage and film who worked with some of the biggest names during the Golden Age of Hollywood (including John Houseman, Edith Head, John Huston, Cecil B. DeMille, Victor Fleming and Robert Rose). She was the recipient of the very first Academy Award for Costume Design (color) in 1948 for Joan of Arc.  She is the recipient of 3 Tony Award nominations: The World of Suzie Wong (1959), Too Late the Phalarope (1957) and Major Barbara (1957). She also designed the costumes for 6 other Broadway productions between 1950 and 1963 including Affairs of State; Winesburg, Ohio; The Taming of the Shrew; Cue for Passion; A Taste of Honey; and My Mother, My Father and Me. Just a sampling of the two dozen classic films she designed costumes for are: The Greatest Show on Earth, Niagara, South Pacific, Elmer Gantry, Let’s Make Love, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, The Way We Were, Young Frankenstein and On Golden Pond. Summing up her work, Ms. Jeakins once said: “I can put my world down to two words: ‘make beauty’ – it’s my cue and my private passion.”

The awardees were selected by the TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Voting Committee, which is comprised of leading members of the theatrical costume design community. They are: Stephen Cabral, Chair; Gregg Barnes, Suzy Benzinger, Dean Brown, Traci DiGesu, 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), Lewis Brown (2011), Carrie Robbins (2012), David Toser (2013), Deborah M. Dryden (2014) and Jess Goldstein (2015).
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), Robin Wagner (2011), Lloyd Burlingame (2012), Desmond Heeley (2013), Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (2014) and Douglas W. Schmidt (2015).
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), Olivera Gajic (2011), Mathew J. LeFebvre (2012), Daniel Lawson (2013), Linda Cho (2014), and Brian Hemesath (2015).
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), Michael-Jon Costumes (2011), Lynn Pectal (2012), Lawrence Vrba (2013), Marjorie Krostyne (2014) and Gino BiFulco – T.O. Dey Shoes (2015);  and the TDF/Irene Sharaff 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), Charles LeMaire (2011), William and Jean Eckart (2012), Martin Pakledinaz (2013), Sam Kirkpatrick (2014), and Raoul Pene Du Bois (2015).
THE TDF COSTUME COLLECTION maintains an extensive inventory of more than 80,000 costumes and accessories for rental at discounted price by any not-for-profit theatre company, opera company, university, high school, religious group, etc.  The Collection resides in a 16,000 square foot home at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. This past year, The Collection served organizations that produced over 1,100 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 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.

was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 90 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.5 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its internationally renowned Autism Theatre Initiative) and award-winning education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community, and a 2013 Lortel Award “Outstanding Body of Work Award.” For more information about TDF, go to:

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