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Stage Managers’ Association announces 2023 awards recipients

The Del Hughes Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management is the only of its kind.

(Clockwise from top left: John M. Atherlay, Gwen Gilliam, Brett Finley, Broadway & Beyond, Robert J. Bruyr and Elynmarie Kazle) (Credit: Courtesy of the Stage Managers’ Association)

The Stage Managers’ Association (SMA), the national organization for working stage managers across the United States, has announced the winners of the 2023 Del Hughes Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management.

This year’s theatrical production stage management honorees are John M. Atherlay and Gwen Gilliam.

Atherlay’s career spans 40 years and includes productions from Broadway to regional theater to cruise ships. On the Main Stem, Atherlay stage managed the original companies of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Xanadu,” as well as the revival of “The Seagull” with Tyne Daly and Jon Voight. He has more than 25 national tour stage management credits that include “Blithe Spirit” with Angela Lansbury, “The Producers” and “The Band’s Visit.” In addition, Atherlay served as a stage manager councilor at Actors’ Equity Association for 20 years and was a three-time chair of the SMA.

Gilliam most recently served as the production stage manager for Broadway’s “Walking with Ghosts.” Her other Main Stem credits date back to 1986 with “Uptown...It’s Hot!” and also include the original productions of “Fences,” “Five Guys Named Moe,” “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk,” “The Wild Party,” “Topdog / Underdog,” “Eclipsed” and “Slave Play,” among others. Gilliam has also worked as a producer and production manager for corporate and charity events.

The SMA is also recognizing opera production stage manager Brett Finley.

In addition to Atherlay, Gilliam and Finley, Elynmarie Kazle will receive the Founders Award. Special Recognition Awards will also be given to Robert J. Bruyr and the organization Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color organization, which was founded by Lisa Dawn Cave, Beverly Jenkins, Jimmie Lee Smith and Kenneth J. McGee.

Kazle has had a 30-year career in stage management and is the president of he SMA Foundation. Bruyr joined the Actors’ Equity Association’s stage manager’s committee in 1968 while working as a stage manager. He retired in 2002 but maintains honorary life memberships in the SMA and Actors’ Equity. Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color works to connect early and mid-career BIPOC stage managers with professionals to help them sustain their careers and network successfully within the industry.

The awards, named for Broadway and television stage manager Del Hughes, were instituted in 1986. Recipients are chosen in February from nominations submitted by industry members.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids leads the sponsorship of the Del Hughes Awards event, which will be held on Nov. 6, 2023, with details to be announced.