An evening at the Del Hughes Awards is a chance to celebrate and validate our lofty craft, Stage Management. I confess – I love tribute ceremonies. They touch me. The honoring of a career by one’s peers is a beautiful thing to witness. Del Hughes Awards night is the one night in a year that stage managers can come together to share and celebrate their unique love of the theatre and all forms of live entertainment. And the evening of Monday, May 11, 2015 at Connolly’s Pub in midtown Manhattan was no exception. The tributes given this evening for our three honorees were very different but all were heartfelt, filled with love and respect, and passionate about the beauty of how stage managers make a difference in the business and the world.
Elynmaire Kazle, Chair of the SMA started off the evening welcoming all who attended. Rich Costabile (past Chair and Del Hughes Committee member) MC’d the evening.
Craig Jacobs was celebrated first by the remarkable Tom Viola of BCEFA. Tom’s recognition of Craig’s constant efforts on the part of the cause was beautiful and powerful. Next, Martha Knight (2014 Del Hughes honoree) read from the many notes of congratulations sent in by Craig’s admirers including Chita River, Tyne Daly and Harold Prince, just to mention a few. Tom Bartlett’s note mentioned one observation: “When spoken by Craig, ‘No!’ is a complete sentence”! Bethe Ward ran in just before the ceremony with a many-paged scroll of signatures and appreciation from the cast of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA where Craig PSM’d for years. A lot of love was beamed to Craig whose health prevented him from attending in person though we are sure that he was there in spirit.
Jill Rendall returned triumphantly to NYC from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she has reigned as the “Queen of Repertory” – a title bequeathed by Jimmie McDermott (2014 Del Hughes honoree), who introduced Jill – in order to receive her Del Hughes Award. Jill’s varied and long career has taken her coast-to-coast with many significant stops in-between. She has spent the vast majority of her career at LORT theatres and was central to negotiating the current Equity contract for regional theatres. Her acceptance speech was humble and moving. Jill holds dear the many artists and craftspeople with whom she has worked over the decades … and it is clear to see that they feel just as passionately about what Jill’s stage management has meant to them through countless productions. They are celebrating at OSF!
Frank Hartenstein was introduced by his longtime associate Tripp Phillips who spoke eloquently of assisting Frank back in the old days. It is clear that throughout his career, Frank has had a tremendous influence on so many in the business – several of his assistants from over the years were in attendance to support and honor him. And in his acceptance, Frank made it very clear that none of us can be successful without the dedicated and skillful help of those with whom we work in this most collaborative of art forms. Frank’s career spans decades and includes some of Broadway’s most memorable and challenging shows: A Chorus Line, Big River, Starlight Express, Into the Woods, The Who’s Tommy to name a few.
Big thanks go out to Janet Friedman, Chair of the Del Hughes Committee, all the members of the committee and members at large who volunteered their time in putting together a very successful event.