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2019 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awardees announced - Susan Hilferty to receive Lifetime Achievement Award; John Lee Beatty to receive Robert L. B. Tobin Award on Friday April 26 at The Edison Ballroom

Date: Mar 18, 2019


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Award-winning costume designer SUSAN HILFERTY and legendary scenic designer JOHN LEE BEATTY are among the 25th Anniversary TDF/Irene Sharaff Award recipients which were just announced by TDF, the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts. Ms. Hilferty was selected to receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design and Mr. Beatty will receive the Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design. The awards are presented through TDF’s Costume Collection at a ceremony on Friday, April 26, at 6:30pm, at the Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street).  For ticket information please contact either: or 212-989-5855 ex. 219.

Additionally, costume designer MIO GUBERINIC will receive the TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award and RODNEY GORDON will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award.

“Since the Sharaff Awards were started in 1994, we have awarded a veritable who’s who of theatrical costume and set designers” said TDF’s Costume Collection Director STEPHEN CABRAL. “This year’s exciting slate of awardees are worthy additions to that esteemed list.”

As it has been 25 years since the founding of the awards, where the first Lifetime Achievement was presented to the legendary Irene Sharaff, there will be a screening of an original 15-minute film on her career as memorial tribute, created by designer SUZY BENZINGER.

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, Allen Lee Hughes, Holly Hynes, Carolyn Kostopoulous, Anna Louizos, Mimi Maxmen, David Murin, Sally Ann Parsons, Robert Perdziola, Gregory Poplyk, Carrie Robbins, Tony Walton, Patrick Wiley and David Zinn.

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 25th Anniversary TDF/Irene Sharaff awards. 


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), Jess Goldstein (2015), Susan Tsu (2016), Catherine Zuber (2017) and Holly Hynes (2018).

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), Douglas W. Schmidt (2015), Michael Yeargan (2016), Tony Straiges (2017) and Zack Brown (2018).
The TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award (formerly known as 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 previously 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), Brian Hemesath (2015), Suttirat Larlarb (2016), Paloma Young (2017), and Travis Halsey (2018).

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.

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), Gino Bifulco – T.O. Dey Shoes (2015), Liz Covey & Rosemary Ingham (2016), Ernest Smith (2017) and Fritz Masten (2018).

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 Memorial Tribute Award to Raoul Pene Du Bois (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), Raoul Pene Du Bois (2015), Dorothy Jeakins (2016) and  MOTLEY - Margaret Harris, Sophie Harris and Elizabeth Montgomery Wilmot - (2017) and  Karinska (2018).


SUSAN HILFERTY (TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award) has designed over 300 productions across the globe including the United States, the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Malaysia, Spain, Brazil, Germany, and South Africa. Her many Broadway designs include Wicked (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk awards and Olivier nomination), Present Laughter (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations), Hands on a Hardbody, Spring Awakening (Tony nomination), Lestat (Tony nomination), the 2013 revival of Annie, Into the Woods (Tony and Drama Desk nominations; Hewes Award) and Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland. Her designs for opera include Rigoletto for the Metropolitan Opera and Manon at LA Opera and Berlin Staatsoper. Her designs for New York’s Off Broadway theatres are innumerable and include Richard Nelson’s Apple Family Plays, August Wilson’s Radio Golf and Jitney.

She works with such well-known directors as Athol Fugard (the South African writer with whom she works as set and costume designer and often as co-director on over 32 productions since 1980), JoAnne Akalaitis, Laurie Anderson, Arin Arbus, Christopher Ashley, Walter Bobbie, Anne Bogart, Gregory Boyd, Jonathan Butterell, Oskar Eustis, Robert Falls, Yael Farber, Frank Galati, Garry Hynes, David Jones, Selina Cartmell, Moisés Kaufman, Tony Kushner, Mark Lamos, James Lapine, Michael Longhurst, Richard Nelson, Des McAnuff, Marion McClinton, James MacDonald, Emily Mann, Joe Mantello, Michael Mayer, Neil Pepe, Bartlett Sher, Rebecca Taichman, Robert Woodruff, Doug Wright, and the late Garland Wright.

Hilferty also has designed for film, dance (Alvin Ailey), the circus (Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey) and concerts (Taylor Swift’s Speak Now World Tour). Hilferty’s many awards include an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Design, the Lilly Award and the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women. In addition, she chairs the Department of Design for Stage and Film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

JOHN LEE BEATTY (Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design) has designed sets for well over 100 Broadway productions since 1973 including The Apple Tree, Losing Louie, Heartbreak House, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Rabbit Hole, The Color Purple, Crimes of the Heart, The Odd Couple, Doubt, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Twentieth Century, Wonderful Town, Dinner at Eight, Morning’s at Seven, Proof, Footloose, Ivanov, The Little Foxes, Once Upon a Mattress, Chicago, A Delicate Balance, The Heiress, Redwood Curtain, A Small Family Business, The Most Happy Fella, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Octette Bridge Club, Duet for One, Fifth of July, The Innocents, Knock Knock, Junk, Sweat and Disgraced.

He has won 2 Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design of a Play for The Nance (2013) and Talley’s Folly (1980). He has received thirteen other Tony Award nominations for Other Desert Cities (2012), The Royal Family (2010) and The Color Purple (2006), among others. Beatty also has won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design four times: Twentieth Century (2004), Dinner at Eight (2003), Fifth of July (1981) and Talley’s Folly (1979). He received ten other Drama Desk nominations. 

MIO GUBERINIC (TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award) was born in Serbia and graduated in 2005 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade with a BFA in Costume and Fashion Design. In 2007 he started his studies at Indiana University soon after, he decided to transfer to Chicago Northwestern University where he graduated with an MFA in Theatre Costume Design in 2011. While at Indiana University he designed The Seagull (2008) and at Northwestern, he designed Bernstein's Mass (2009), Spinning Into Butter (2010), Tartuffe (2010), In Trousers (2010), A Lie of the Mind (2010), Where We’re Born (2011 - Steppenwolf), Animals Out of Paper (2011 - Steppenwolf) and  Dance in the Parks (2011 - Chicago parks), 

Mio has been designing for a wide range of theatre productions from contemporary to avant-garde including: Dragus Maximus (2018 - Roulette), Morphium Kabarett (2017 - Met-Breuer), Cast, Stage, Author (2017 - Abrons Arts Center), Into the Woods (2017 - Princeton University), Mozart in Space (2016 - Heartbeat Opera), Little Shop of Horrors (2016 - Berkshire Theatre Festival), Morphium Kabarett (2016 - Joe's Pub), Court Garden (2014 - Dance Space Project), The Other Mozart (2014 - Here Arts Center), Maiden (2014 - La Mama), Eurydice (2014 - Long Island University), Good Breeding (2013 - NYU Meisner Studio), Glory Road (2013 - Grace Plaza), The Memory Tax (2013 - Chernuchin Theater), Touch (2013 - Hudson Guild Theatre), The Other Mozart (2013 - Cherry Lane Theater), Freedom plays (2013 - Long Island University), 10% Nation (2012 - Dixon Place), The King and I (2012 - Harbor Lights Theatre), Lombardi (2012 - Harbor Lights Theater), How Deep Is the Ocean (2012 - NY Musical Festival), Cosmic Opera (2012 - Hammerstein Ballroom), Amahl and the Night Visitors (2011 - Harbor Lights Theater), Muzungu (2011 - Co-Op Theatre East), Steel Magnolias (2011 - Harbor Lights Theatre), Ghost Girl (2011 - Workshop Theater). Today, Mio resides in Brooklyn where he owns the creative company Mio Design NYC focusing on the highly innovative one of a kind costume design and artisan projects, using the newest cutting-edge materials and technology on a wide range of projects for Broadway and TV productions as well as fashion editorial pieces and window display. You can check his work on

RODNEY GORDON (TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award) is known in the business for not only his creative vision and master craftsmanship, he also has the ability to create non-traditional pieces from unusual materials and made-up techniques. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (College of Fine Arts - BFA 1975), Rodney began his professional career as a milliner for the Metropolitan Opera in 1973. This was followed by apprenticeships with Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and San Francisco Opera. In 1977, Rodney moved to NYC and worked for Harper-Nihda Studio, Grace Costume, and Woody Shelp. Then in 1980, Rodney established his own costume accessory studio where he and his staff create hats, headdresses, masks, jewelry and armor for theatre, film, ballet and opera stages worldwide. 
Among the current Broadway productions which feature his work are: Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin, My Fair Lady, Wicked, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, and The Book of Mormon. Highlights of over 200 Broadway productions include: Hello, Dolly!; Follies; Mary Poppins; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; The Importance of Being Earnest; A Chorus Line; Billy Elliot; Shrek; Grey Gardens;  Spamalot; The King and I; Miss Saigon; The Will Rogers Follies; Victor/Victoria; Sunset Boulevard; Carousel; The Producers; Titanic and Crazy for You. Rodney’s work has also been featured in numerous productions for the following companies: Radio City, Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, ABT, NY City Ballet, Joffrey, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Las Vegas Ballet and the opera companies of Chicago, Berlin, Denver, Dallas, Miami, Houston, Washington, and New York. He has also had the pleasure of being Ms. Bette Midler’s personal milliner for her annual Hulaween Benefit, as well as creating headwear for her last two national tours and her Las Vegas production of The Showgirl Must Go On

IRENE SHARAFF (Memorial Tribute) (1910 – 1993) was a costume designer for stage and screen who, throughout her 50 year career won five Academy Awards and a Tony Award. She began designing on stage in 1932 for Eva LeGallienne’s Alice in Wonderland, winning the Donaldson Award for both her costumes and scenery designs. Her career took off and she spent the next forty years designing countless Broadway shows and ballets including: As Thousands Cheer (1933), On Your Toes (1936), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Streets of Paris (1939), Lady in the Dark (1941), Billion Dollar Baby (1945), Ballet Theatre’s Interplay (1946), Michael Todd's Peep Show (1950), The King & I (1951), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), Of Thee I Sing (1952), Candide (1956), West Side Story (1957), Jerome Robbins' Ballet: U.S.A. (1958), Flower Drum Song (1958), Juno (1959), Do Re Mi (1960), Funny Girl (1964), Sweet Charity (1966), Hallelujah, Baby! (1967), and Debbie Reynolds’ costumes for the 1973 revival of Irene. Nominated nine times for the Tony Award, Ms. Sharaff won the 1952 Tony for Best Costume Design for The King & I.

Ms. Sharaff was lured to Hollywood in 1942 by MGM to design for their musical films. In 1944 she joined the legendary Freed Unit and first made her mark in film with Vincente Minnelli's period musical Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), followed by his artistically stylized if not entirely successful Yolanda and the Thief (1945).  Her distinctive style: bright splashes of vibrant primary colors set off against delicate backgrounds, subtle gradations of color for chorus costumes, and flattering, womanly shapes for such stars as Judy Garland (A Star is Born 1954), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl 1967 and Hello, Dolly! 1969) and four times for Elizabeth Taylor (including Cleopatra 1963 and The Taming of the Shrew (1967) won her five Oscars and eleven nominations. Her striking and richly adorned designs enhanced almost all the major film musicals made from Broadway hits during the 1950s and 60s including such well-remembered classics as Brigadoon (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), The King and I (1956), Porgy and Bess (1959), West Side Story (1961), as well as such dramatic films as The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Great White Hope (1970), and her final film, Mommie Dearest (1981). 

In 1993, TDF presented the first Lifetime Achievement Award for Costume Design. This award was conceived as a one-time only honor to be presented to Ms. Sharaff. At the time, Ms. Sharaff was very ill and Barbara Matera accepted the Award on her behalf. Sadly, later that same year Ms. Sharaff died. The following year, TDF decided to make this Award an annual tradition and re-name it in Ms. Sharaff’s honor. 

THE TDF COSTUME COLLECTION consists of the TDF Costume Collection Rental Program and the TDF Costume Collection Research Program.  The rental program maintains an extensive inventory of more than 80,000 costumes and accessories for rental at discounted prices 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 900 productions in 35 states. It stocks all periods and accepts donations from productions, institutions and individuals. These donations are tax-deductible to the degree allowed by law. The research program provides resources for those looking to study the art of theatrical costume design.

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. 

TDF is a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. Founded in 1968, TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging and cultivating a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. TDF fulfills its mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities and support the makers of the performing arts. Best known for its theatregoing programs (including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths and TDF Membership Programs), TDF’s accessibility (including open captioned, audio described and Autism Friendly performances), school (serving over 10,000 New York City students annually), community engagement and information programs — as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs — have introduced millions of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. To learn more about TDF, go to:

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