Screen Stars Shine at Theatre World Awards

By , Columnist
The Theatre World Awards has been recognizing actors making their Broadway and Off-Broadway debuts since 1945. Honoring six male and six female performers each year, the awards often go to young up-and-comers, but a healthy batch of this year's winners have leaped onto Big Apple stages from successful Hollywood and television careers.

Representing the veterans, Ellen Barkin (Diner, Tender Mercies, Sea of Love) will get a nod for her role in The Normal Heart, and TV star John Larroquette (Night Court, The John Larroquette Show) will receive one for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. That revival also stars Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe, who isn't eligible, having made his own Broadway debut in Equus way back in 2008.

Ellen Barkin.jpgGrace Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep, will be honored for Arcadia, while Zachary Quinto, who won raves as Spock in the Star Trek reboot, gets a nod for his role in the revival of Tony Kushner's Angels in America.

Meanwhile, the first annual Lunt-Fontanne Award for Ensemble Excellence goes to the cast of The Motherf**ker with the Hat, which features both Chris Rock and Annabella Sciorra.

It's no secret that theater producers hire name actors from movies and TV for their star power. The presence of someone like Daniel Radcliffe can spur ticket sales and keep dozens of cast and crew members in rent money for months or more. This has its down side, though; some observers complained that Scarlett Johansson's Tony win last year (for A View from the Bridge) recognized her more for the Hollywood glitz she brought to Broadway than for the performance itself.

Although Theatre World's 2011 awardees include more than the usual number of screen-crossover artists, the group has never been shy about recognizing such actors. Johansson received an award last year as well, and past winners making Broadway and Off-Broadway debuts after screen success include Rachel Weisz, Macaulay Culkin, Colin Hanks, Fantasia Barrino, Christina Applegate, and Roseanne's Johnny Galecki, who stripped naked in The Little Dog Laughed in 2006.

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