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This award is named in honor of the legendary lyricist and librettist who helped shape American musical theatre through his collaborations with a number of different composers and writers. His contributions to such landmark musicals as Show BoatOklahoma!, South Pacific, and Carousel are a legacy for all time.

The award was created in 1988 by Janet Hayes Walker, Founding Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company, and is presented with the endorsement of the Hammerstein family and The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. Its purpose is to recognize significant lifetime achievement in musical theatre.

The Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala is the major annual fundraising event of The York, a mainstay of the New York theater for over 50 years.  Past recipients include Stephen Sondheim, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Harold Prince, Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Herman, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Stone, David Merrick, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Terrence McNally, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Carol Channing, Tony Walton, Joseph Stein, George S. Irving, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, Thomas Meehan, Barbara Cook, Paul Gemignani, Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty,  Angela Lansbury, Joel Grey, Tom Jones & Harvey SchmidtSusan StromanAndré De Shields, and most recently, Richard Maltby, Jr. & David Shire.

Previous Awards & Galas

2021 - Richard Maltby, Jr. & David Shire

The 29th Oscar Hammerstein Award for Achievement in Musical Theatre was presented on Monday, November 1, 2021 to musical theatre composing team Richard Maltby, Jr. & David Shire. They have been writing together since they met at Yale (class of ’59), where their first two musicals, Cyrano and Grand Tour, were produced. In the years since, they have written the scores for more than a dozen more musicals, including Broadway’s Baby (1983) and Big (1995), both of which netted them Tony Award nominations for Best Score.The event included special guest appearances by Loni Ackerman, George Lee Andrews, Jenny Lyn Bader, Jordan Barrow, Sierra Boggess, Kerry Butler, Liz Callaway, Margery Cohen, Frenchie Davis, Josh Dela Cruz, Santino Fontana, Montego Glover, Sydney James Harcourt, Daniel Jenkins, Eddie Korbich, Norm Lewis, Charlotte Maltby, Janet Metz, Julia Murney, Christiane Noll, and York Musical Theatre Training Program Alum.

2019 - André De Shields

The 28th Oscar Hammerstein Award was presented on Monday, November 11, 2019 to Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor, André De Shields. De Shields is probably most known for his stellar performances in Hadestown, Ain't Misbehavin', The Wiz, and The Full Monty. The event was hosted by Charlayne Woodard and included special guest appearances by John Ellison Conlee, Robert Creighton, Darius De Haas, Jeffry Denman, Dawn Driver, Mercedes Ellington, Kylie Kuioka, Teresa Eyring, Ron Lucas, Richard Maltby, Jr., Larry Owens, Tony Perry, Malvinna Rose, Melissa Schott, Marc Shaiman, Edward Tolve, Ekele Ukegbu, Ben Vereen, Anita Welch, Freida Williams, Patrick Wilson, David Yazbek, The Alumni Ensemble of The Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem, Students from Marymount College, and York Musical Theater Training Program Alum.

2018 - susan stroman

The 27th Oscar Hammerstein Award was presented on Monday, November 12, 2018 to award-winning Broadway director and choreographer, Susan Stroman. In addition to Richard Maltby, Jr., David Shire, and Matthew Broderick, the line-up of artists  included Lynn Ahrens, Sierra Boggess, Nick Cordero, Stephen Flaherty, John Kander, William Ivey Long, Terrence Mann, Debra Monk, Brad Oscar, Laura Osnes, Bryonha Marie Parham, Tiler Peck, David Thompson, Kaley Ann Voorhees, John Weidman, Tony Yazbeck, and Karen Ziemba, among a cast of 60 performers recreating some of Ms. Stroman's most memorable numbers from shows such as Crazy for You, Oklahoma!, Contact, And the World Goes ‘Round, Show Boat, Bullets Over Broadway, Steel Pier, The Scottsboro Boys, The Producers, and more.

2017 - tom jones & harvey schmidt

The 26th Oscar Hammerstein Award was presented on Monday, December 4, 2017 to Broadway legends Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt. The event also featured Gretchen Cryer & Nancy Ford, Robert Cuccioli, John Davidson, Rita Gardner, Adam Kantor, Judy Kaye, Norm Lewis, Samantha Massell, Michele McConnell, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Randy Rainbow, Ben Rimalower, Frances Ruffelle, Christopher Sieber, Lesley Ann Warren, Susan Watson, Well-Strung, Betsy Wolfe, and Freddie Gershon.

2016 - Joel Grey

The 25th Oscar Hammerstein Award was presented on Monday, December 5, 2016 to Broadway legend Joel Grey. The event also featured Carolee Carmello, Robert Creighton, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster, Bebe Neuwirth, Rory O'Malley, and Bernadette Peters.

2015 - angela lansbury

The York Theatre Company hosted the 24th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala on Monday, November 16th, 2015 in honor of Angela Lansbury.