Mirren takes center stage

Actress honored by Geffen Playhouse

HOLLYWOOD — Helen Mirren hadn’t received an award in nearly two months when the Geffen Playhouse stepped in and bestowed her latest kudos this year — for distinction in theater — on Monday night.

John Lithgow, who presented the award, said, “I’m doing this because I felt so bad you won so few awards this year.”

Lithgow also talked of her courage as an actress. “Everyone talks about the scene; I was the only one there,” he said recalling a performance of “Troilus and Cressida” at Stratford when the sheet that wrapped Mirren came off “and for a nanosecond you saw Helen naked.”

“I suspect it’s because of my work in film that I’m getting this award,” Mirren said candidly. “I can’t imagine you’ve all seen my work in theater.”

The fifth annual Backstage at the Geffen, where several legiters spoke of moments of near disaster onstage, also raised $500,000 for the playhouse’s education program.

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