June 1st, beginning 5:00 p.m. at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater in NYC (416 W. 42nd St.) the dazzlingly talented members of the Lilly Award Foundation (founded by Marsha Norman, Theresa Rebeck and Julia Jordon) presented awards to women of distinction in all aspects of the theater. The Lilly Awards Foundation has helped move the needle of women playwrights getting their work on stage, women producers getting to produce, women directors getting to direct, women lighting and set designer getting to design, etc. from almost nil to ten percent. Even Five Play, the all-woman jazz quintet who added their swing to the evening will benefit -- Lincoln Center announced that it will be holding open auditions for the first time.
Lisa Kron, twice nominated for a 2015 Tony (Fun Home) emceed in a top hat she swiped from her college costume room, did an imitation of Maurice Chevalier in Gigi with her own lyrics. "Little girls get bigger and write plays."
Terrence McNally in his yellow sneakers presented two-time Tony Award winning Chita Rivera with the Legendary Lilly. Looking dazzling in a red suit and red heels, she told the audience that she's 81. "Wake up in the morning and pick it up and down," she advised, demonstrating by kicking her legs out to the side, shoulder height! Currently, she has been nominated for another Tony for her star role in the five Tony Award-winning musical, The Visit.
Lynne Ahrens presented a Lilly in choreography to dancer, choreographer and director Graciela Daniele. At seventy-six, in a classy striped pantsuit, she did the Chita Rivera pick 'em up kicks, too. Lest you think she's kicking back, she choreographed The Visit.
The Lilly Award in Playwriting, presented by Lynne Meadow, went to Lisa D'Amour (2015 Tony nominee, Airline Highway; Detroit).
The Leah Ryan prize, presented by Cusi Cram, went to actress, playwright and co-founder of Collaboration Town Boo Killebrew.
Everyone, including Daryl Roth (producer of seven Pulitzer Prize-winning plays) cried when her producer son, Jordan Roth, presented her with the Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Lilly Award for Working Miracles was presented by Zoe Sarnak and Rebecca Naomi Jones to Shakina Nayfack, a director, choreographer, producer and performance artist with a passion for crossing boundaries of all kinds. She's the founding artistic director of The Musical Theater Factory.
Heidi Shreck presented a Lilly for acting to Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Still Alice, Rachel Getting Married, While We Were Young.)
Stacey Mindich presented her annual award "Go Write A Play Award" to Heidi Schreck, a two-time Obie Award actor and playwright.
Lilly Award for Distinguished Service to Playwrights was presented to Didi O'Connell by Lisa Kron.
The Miss Lilly Award was given by Linda Chapman, the artistic director of The New York Theater Workshop to Jim Nicola who has always nurtured both established and emerging talent. As a surprise, Linda Chapman, Associate Director of the New York Theater workshop was presented the Mizz Lilly Award by Jim Nicola.
The Lilly Award is named for Lillian Hellman who once said, "You need to write like the devil and act like one when necessary."
And that's what it takes to create diversity in the arts. And diversity creates richer art.
To see the Sixth Annual Award streamed live and/or to donate to The Lilly Foundation, go to http://www.thelillyawards.org/