Legit debuts garner kudos

Theater World Awards honors first-timers

Harry Connick Jr. (“The Pajama Game”), Richard Griffiths (“The History Boys”) and Elisabeth Withers-Mendes (“The Color Purple”) are among the 12 performers honored with 2005-06 Theater World Awards for Broadway and Off Broadway debut performances.

Joining those winners are Felicia P. Fields (“The Color Purple”), Maria Friedman (“The Woman in White”), Mamie Gummer (“Mr. Marmalade”), Jayne Houdyshell (“Well”), Bob Martin (“The Drowsy Chaperone”), Ian McDiarmid (“Faith Healer”), Nellie McKay (“The Threepenny Opera”), David Wilmot (“The Lieutenant of Inishmore”) and John Lloyd Young (“Jersey Boys”).

Awards will be presented June 6 at Studio 54 by previous Theater World honorees, including Lucie Arnaz (“They’re Playing Our Song,” 1979), Harry Groener (“Oklahoma!,” 1977) and John Rubinstein (“Pippin,” 1973).

Winners were chosen by the Theater World Awards committee, comprised of Peter Filichia (Theatermania.com), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (TalkinBroadway.com), Frank Scheck (New York Post), Michael Sommers (Newhouse Papers), Doug Watt (critic emeritus, New York Daily News) and Linda Winer (Newsday), and coordinated by Filichia.

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