The Geffen Playhouse bestowed Academy Award winning actress Dame Helen Mirren with their 2007 Distinction in Theater Award April 30 at the Fifth Annual event and reception in Westwood.
Along with Mirren's honor, graciously presented by actor John Lithgow, the star-studded evening included play readings, intimate storytelling and song while recognizing outgoing Board of Directors Chairman, Herb Gelfand. Proceeds from the celebratory night benefitted the Geffen Playhouse's Education and Outreach Programs.
"We created the Distinction in Theater Award to honor those whose substantial work on stage and off has contributed greatly to the lifeblood of theater, locally and around the world," said Geffen Playhouse Producing Director Gil Cates. "Helen is the epitome of theater dedication, cutting her teeth on stage following high school and becoming a veteran at the Old Vic by age 20. Whether portraying royalty on stage or on screen, Helen is the 'queen' of today's actresses."
Mirren has won international recognition for performances spanning four decades. For her role as Queen Elizabeth II in Miramax's "The Queen," Mirren won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Critic's Choice Award. In addition, she was named Best Actress by every critic's organization from Los Angeles to London. At the Venice Film Festival she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress and received a five-minute standing ovation for her performance after the film's premiere. Mirren has also received significant recognition for two other performances she filmed in the same year as "The Queen." For HBO, she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in the miniseries "Elizabeth I." She won an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award for that role. The two-part series explored the queen's public and private life late in her reign. Mirren also reprised her long-running character Detective Jane Tennison in "Prime Suspect: The Final Act," the last installment in the PBS series. The performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination, however she lost to herself – she was nominated twice in the same category. The character previously won her an Emmy and three BAFTA Awards.
Distinction in Theater Award past recipients include actor Karl Malden (presented by Tom Hanks), and HBO Original Movies President Colin Callender (presented by Annette Bening). Participants in previous Galas include Jason Alexander, Debbie Allen, Ted Danson, Sally Field, Carrie Fisher, Christine Lahti, David Hyde Pierce, Tommy Schlamme, Mary Steenburgen, Bruce Vilanch, and Rita Wilson.
Visit www.geffenplayhouse.com for more information.
Photos by Amy Tierney/Lee Salem Photography.
BWW Hi-Res Gallery - Original Version
John Lithgow presenting Helen Mirren with the Distinction in Theater Award