Costume designers Toni-Leslie James and Ann Roth will each be honored with a Ming Cho Lee Award for Lifetime Achievement in Design at the 57th annual Henry Hewes Design Awards. The ceremony will be live streamed November 1 at 8 PM ET via Zoom by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Illinois Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“After a difficult 18 months of quarantines, alienation, and cultural disruption, who better to honor than two costume designers whose individual creative excellence have made theatrical storytelling more startling, more compelling, and more beautiful," said Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, chair of the awards committee.
“In honoring Toni-Leslie James and Ann Roth with the Ming Cho Lee Award for Lifetime Achievement, we consider literally thousands of images from the wide range of these two designers’ experience. Every article of clothing, every piece of fabric used in the creation of their worldviews, take us deeper into their dramatic imaginations.”
James is a three-time Tony nominee, earning nods for her work on Bernhardt/Hamlet, Jitney, and Jelly's Last Jam. Roth is the recipient of 11 Tony nominations for Costume Design, winning the award in 2013 for The Nance.
The committee will also honor five service organizations who helped keep the design community functioning as the pandemic unfolded: United Scenic Artists Local 829, the Costume Industry Coalition, the See Lighting Foundation, the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association, and Wingspace. Representatives of the organizations will be invited to speak about their vision and mission at the online ceremony, where they will be presented with a citation and a donation from the Henry Hewes Foundation for Theater Arts.
The late Ming Cho Lee was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Henry Hewes Design Awards, and the award was renamed for him at that presentation ceremony. Lee, who passed away in October 2020, designed more than 300 productions across the globe, won a Tony Award in 1983 for K2, and taught for 48 years at the Yale School of Drama.
The annual awards honor designers for work in venues on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway, recognizing scenic, costume, and lighting design, as well as notable effects (encompassing sound, music, video, projections, puppetry, and other creative elements).
The Hewes Awards Committee, which annually considers more than 200 productions when making its nominations, includes theatre critics Jenkins, David Barbour, David Cote, Glenda Frank, Naveen Kumar, Helen Shaw, Michael Sommers, and Martha Wade Steketee.