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The Theatre World Award, first awarded for the 1945-46 season, is an Americanmarker honor presented annually to actors and actresses in recognition of an outstanding New York Citymarker stage debut performance, either on Broadwaymarker or off-Broadway.


Inaugural recipients included Betty Comden, Judy Holliday and John Raitt. The long and eclectic list of performers who have received the award includes Julie Andrews, Phyllis Hyman, Lea Salonga, Carol Channing, Barbara Cook, Tim Daly, Loren Dean, Calista Flockhart, Glenne Headly, Ernestine Jackson, Grace Kelly, Cloris Leachman, Carol Lynley, Lizbeth MacKay, Jayne Mansfield, Audra McDonald, Helen Mirren, Brenda Blethyn, Gillian Anderson, Patricia Neal, Brooke Shields, Maureen Stapleton, Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Vanessa L. Williams, Danny Aiello, Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, Dixie Carter, Billy Crudup, Ralph Fiennes, Andy Griffith, Laurence Harvey, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Jude Law, Anthony Perkins, Christopher Plummer, Cliff Robertson, Eli Wallach, Lucie Arnaz, James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Jane Fonda, the entire cast of A Chorus Line, and - in the 21st century - Marissa Jaret Winokur, John Lloyd Young, Antonio Banderas, Christina Applegate, Fantasia Barrino, Harry Connick, Jr., Hugh Jackman, Reba McEntire and Nellie McKay.

Winners are selected by a committee of New York-based critics. That committee currently includes Peter Filichia (, Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (, Frank Scheck (New York Post), Michael Sommers (Newhouse Papers), Doug Watt (Critic Emeritus, New York Daily News), and Linda Winer (New York Newsday), and are coordinated by Theatre World Editor John Willis and Associate Editor Ben Hodges. (Theatre World is the oldest definitive pictorial and statistical record of each American theatrical season and serves as a reference for theater professionals, students, and historians worldwide.)

Known as "Janus" after the Roman god of entrances, exits, and all beginnings, the award is a bronze sculpture designed by artist Harry Marinsky.

The winners for the 2008-09 season were announced on May 11, 2009, with a ceremony to be held June 2; the awards are traditionally presented by former award winners.

Award winners


  • Special Award to the entire cast of The Norman Conquests: Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan, Ben Miles, Paul Ritter and Amanda Root



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