Theatrical costumers will be the stars of the 2001 Irene Sharaff Awards, which will be presented by TDF (Theatrical Development Fund) on Friday, April 6, in New York City. These annual awards honor excellence in the field of costume design in various categories, from the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award to the Young Master Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, which was first presented to Irene Sharaff herself in 1993, goes to the late Freddy Wittop [pictured, left], who died on February 2 of this year. He designed costumes for more than 30 Broadway productions, including Carol Channing's fabulous frocks in Hello Dolly!, for which he won a Tony Award in 1964. Tony nominations followed in 1965 for The Roar Of The Greasepaint and The Smell Of The Crowd with Cyril Ritchard; in 1967 for I Do! I Do!; in 1968 for The Happy Time; in 1970 for A Patriot and Me (starring Maximilian Schell); and in 1971 for Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen. In 1984, he came out of retirement to design a Broadway production of The Three Musketeers.
Born in 1921 in Holland, Wittop spent much of his childhood in Paris and became an American citizen during WWII when he worked with the American Army. His early costume designs were for the Brussels Opera (where he apprenticeed when he was just 13 years old. He also designed for the Follies Bergere in Paris, the Latin Quarter in New York, and for Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice shows, as well as for Ballet Theatre in 1944. He was also a flamenco dancer performing under the name of Frederico Rey, and he had his own dance company in the 1950s.
Wittop's award will be accepted by his close friend, Mary Ellen Brook, director of the Hargett Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Georgia, where Wittop's archives reside. In a 1984 interview with Theatre Crafts Magazine, Wittop said, "I admire Irene Sharaff, she was a great one. There are a lot of good designers, but she was an all-around designer. She was very good on modern clothes, very good on historical clothes, while I like some things and don't like others." An expert on period costumes, it is quite fitting for Wittop to be honored with this award.
The other 2001 Irene Sharaff award recipients are Constance Hoffman (Tony nomination for The Green Bird last season) who will receive the Young Master Award, costume builder Barbara Matera who will receive the Artisan Award, and Aline Bernstein who will receive the posthumous award for her design career of 1924-1955--and who gave Irene Sharaff her start in the business way back when.
Additional information can be found at TDF's website: www.tdf.org.