On November 27, the 14th annual Lilly Awards were held. Honoring the work of women in the American theatre, this year's Lillys recognized the work of the generation of women who led the push for parity.
The ceremony was hosted by actor Kathy Najimy and lyricist Amanda Green, with remarks by playwrights Marsha Norman, Emily Mann, and Lynn Nottage, as well as songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Lillys Executive Director Julia Jordan. This year's ceremony was directed by Melissa Crespo, and produced by Jane Abramson and Julia Jordan.
In Jordan's opening remarks, news was shared that New York City-based non-profit theatres have officially reached parity in both gender and race for writers, and gender parity for directors. She also announced that Alison Saar’s sculpture of Lorraine Hansberry, which has been touring the country as part of the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, will be permanently installed in Chicago’s Navy Pier Park in the summer of 2024.
Awards given by the Lillys are uniquely titled and tailored to each recipient, with heartfelt speeches rendered in support of each artist's legacy and future career prospects.
The award recipients for the evening included St. Ann’s Warehouse founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman, who was presented with the Building the Most Deeply Cool Theatre Award by president emerita of Brooklyn Academy of Music Karen Hopkins; hair and makeup designer Cookie Jordan, who was presented with the Broadway Big Wig Award by playwright Lynn Nottage; actress and playwright Liza Colón-Zayas, who was presented with the Sistah Supreme Award by her husband, actor David Zayas; actor Kathleen Chalfant, who was presented with the Angel of American Theatre Award by playwright Sarah Ruhl; actor Ruthie Ann Miles, who was presented with the Representing in a Big Way Award by costume designer Clint Ramos; and actor Laura Benanti, who was presented with the Slapstick Soprano Saint Award by composer Georgia Stitt.
Several awards sponsored by producer Stacey Mindich were also presented, including two Go Work on Theatre awards that were given to playwright and Honor Roll founder Jacquelyn Reingold (presented by actor Evan Handler), and to founder and Executive Director of Support Black Theatre Sophina Brown (presented by Julia Jordan).
Playwright Kirsten Greenidge received the Go Write a Play Award from actress April Matthis, and composer Georgia Stitt was surprised with the Go Write a Musical Award by Benanti.
Also within the evening, it was announced that Brittani Samuel and Sarah Rose Leonard, co-editors of 3Views on Theater, will be taking over as Co-Executive Directors of the Lilly Awards in January 2024.
The ceremony was completed by two surprise presentations, complete with tiara, sash, and bouquet. The first was the Miss Lilly 2023 distinction. The accolade, which honors one man who has worked to protect and advocate for women in the American theatre, was awarded to costume designer Clint Ramos for 2023.
The second surprise centered on Executive Director Julie Jordan, who was swarmed onstage by her fellow board members to award her with the Julia Jordan Get S*** Done Award. The audience was treated to a special performance from Fogo Azul, New York City's women, trans, and non-binary community drumline.
Previous winners have included Mary Rodgers, Dominique Morisseau, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Jeanine Tesori, Liesl Tommy, Kelli O’Hara, Pam MacKinnon, Leigh Silverman, Anne Kauffman, Sarah Ruhl, Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Baker, Susan Stroman, Lynn Ahrens, Tina Fallon, Amy Herzog, Nina Arianda, Diane Paulus, Katori Hall, Tina Howe, Estelle Parsons, Lynne Meadow, Ntozake Shange, Jessica Hecht, and Lois Smith.