The prolific lyricist who currently has two musicals running on Broadway and the director best known for his four-decade collaboration with the late playwright Lanford Wilson will be this year’s recipients of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. The awards will be presented at the 70th annual Tony Awards ceremony on June 12. The announcement from Tony co-producers the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing did not say whether the presentation of the special awards would be carried live during CBS’ broadcast at the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Sheldon Harnick, who will be 92 next week, is represented on Broadway with the scores of two acclaimed revivals: Fiddler On The Roof and She Loves Me, both written with composer Jerry Bock. Harnick’s other notable scores with Bock include The Body Beautiful, Fiorello! (which won both the Tony for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1960), The Apple Tree and The Rothschilds. His other collaborators in composition have included Cy Coleman, Richard Rodgers and Joe Raposo.
Marshall W. Mason, a co-founder of the enormously influential Circle Repertory Theater, staged the original productions of some of the country’s most daring and provocative playwrights. The group began performing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early 1960s before moving into a former auto repair shop near Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village. Certainly chief among those playwrights was Wilson, the father of what came to be called “lyric realism” with such plays as Balm In Gilead, The Hot l Baltimore, Burn This, Lemon Sky, The Mound Builders and Angels Fall, along with the Talley family trilogy Fifth Of July, Talley’s Folly and A Tale Told (renamed Talley & Son). Wilson died in 2011.
Among other playwrights whose works Mason staged or supported at Circle Rep were Jules Feiffer (Knock Knock) and William Hoffman (As Is), Milan Stitt (The Runner Stumbles), Larry Kramer (The Destiny Of Me) and Terrence McNally (It’s Only A Play). Circle Rep actors who have gone on to significant careers are too numerous to mention but they would include Jeff Daniels, currently on Broadway in Blackbird, and Swoosie Kurtz, who recently completed a long run in CBS’ Mike & Molly and co-starred with Richard Thomas (The Americans) in Fifth Of July.
“It is our pleasure to present two very deserving legends with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their extraordinary careers and countless achievements. Mr. Harnick has crafted some of the most beautiful and recognizable scores in the theatrical repertoire that have spanned generations. Mr. Mason has gifted his ingenious visions to dozens of Broadway’s biggest hits. We are thrilled to play a part in their history with this honor,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said.
The Tonys will be hosted by James Corden.