The Distinguished Achievement Awards honor individuals who have established meritorious careers in specific fields of expertise in any area of design or technology in the performing arts or entertainment industry.

Areas of achievement include but are not limited to disciplines represented by the Commissions of USITT, scenic design, lighting design, sound design, technical direction, costume design & technology, theatre architecture, theatrical consulting, production management, stage or arts management, entertainment technology, education, or a convergence of these disciplines.

Meet the USITT19 Distinguished Achievement and Special Achievement Award winners:

Sally Ann Parsons, Costume Design & Technology

Sally Ann Parsons is a costume designer and costume technologist. She is a member of USA Local 829, and her costume designs are featured in the book American Dance Festival written by Jack Anderson, and her technical work is featured in Unbuttoned: The Art and Artists of Theatrical Costume Design written by Shura Pollatsek.

In 1980, she founded Parsons–Meares, Ltd. In Chelsea, NY, with her husband James Meares, and together they became legend in the industry. Working first out of an abandoned school building, the business would grow into one of the premiere costume shops in New York City. Since her husband’s passing in 2008, Sally has been the sole proprietor, continuing to employ over 60 dressmakers, craftsmen, and artists.

The list of productions that have gone through Parsons–Meares is long, varied, and distinguished. Seventeen Tony award–winning costume designs were created at Parsons–Meares in addition to circus, opera and dance costumes. Following is a list of just a few of the clients of Parsons– Meares: Hamilton, The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked, Sophisticated Ladies, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Sunset Boulevard.

Paul Mills “Pablo” Holmes, Management

Paul Mills Holmes will be finishing his 27th season at Actors Theatre of Louisville this year. He has overseen the Stage Management Department since 2000 when he took the reins from Deb Acquavella. Since his time at Actors he has stage managed over 130 productions in all three theatres and worked on 25 Humana Festival of New American Plays.

He started his career in the theatre as an apprentice at Totem Pole Playhouse where he spent 38 seasons working in every facet of the theatre. He finally found his niche in stage management and received his Equity Card as an ASM for Joe Drummond.

Mr. Holmes spent 20 years working in New York at the WPA Theatre. He was the original PSM for Little Shop of Horrors and Steel Magnolias among others. He directed Little Shop in Tel Aviv and Tokyo and toured briefly with Little Shop in Germany.

He was an ASM on Broadway for Smile, Les Liaisons Dangereus, and occasionally for the infamous Oh! Calcutta.

Wendall Harrington, Digital Media

Wendall K. Harrington’s career has embraced diverse disciplines including Projection design for theatre, publishing and video production.

Broadway design
includes: All the Way, Driving Miss
Daisy, Gray Gardens, They’re Playing Our Song, The Elephant Man, My One and
Only, The Heidi Chronicles, The Will Rogers Follies, Having Our Say, Company,
Racing Demon, Ragtime, John Leguizamo’s Freak, The Capeman, Putting it Together,
and The Who’s Tommy

Off-Broadway work includes: Angels in America, Hapgood, A Christmas Carol at the Paramount; Merrily We Roll Along (four times!) and the ill-fated Whistle Down the Wind.

Opera design: Werther at the Met; Julie Taymor’s The Magic Flute in Florence, Italy; A View from the Bridge at Chicago Lyric; Die Gezeichneten at LA Opera; The Photographer at BAM; Transatlantic, Grapes of Wrath, and Rusalka for Minnesota Opera; Nixon in China for OTSL in ballet; The Nutcracker for Miami, Houston, and San Francisco; Pictures at an ExhibitionAnna Karenina; Firebird; Cinderella and Opera for Alexei Ratmansky; Othello for Lar Lubovich; and Ballet Mechanique for Doug Varone.

Concert work includes the talking heads “stop making sense” and Pete Townshend’s “Psychoderelict” as well as tours for Chris Rock and Simon and Garfunkel.

Ms. Harrington is the recipient of the Drama Desk Award, the
Outer Critics Circle Award, the American Theatre Wing Award, the TCI Award for
Technical Achievement and the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of
Projections, and the Michael Merrit award for collaboration.

As design director of Esquire magazine, Ms. Harrington was responsible for the re-design and re-launch of the “Men’s Magazine of the ’90s.” Later, as editor-at-large for Esquire, she conceived and edited Randy Shilts’s “My Life on the AIDS Tour,” nominated for a National Magazine Award and published in Best American Essays of 1990.

Ms. Harrington has been lecturing on Projection Design for Theatre since the early 90’s and is the head of the Projection Design Concentration at the Yale School of Drama.

Toni-Leslie James, Education

Toni-Leslie James is an American costume designer for stage, television and film. James was awarded The Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award and the 2009 Obie for Sustained Excellence in Costume Design. She received a BFA in costume design from The Ohio State University. Ms James is an Associate Professor and Head of Design in the theatre department of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Her Broadway costume design credits include the costume designs for Come From Away (2017 Drama Desk Nomination), the 2017 revival of August Wilson’s Jitney (2017 TONY Award Nomination, 2017 Drama Desk Nomination), Amazing Grace: A New Musical (Hewes Design Award Nomination), The Scottsboro Boys (Hewes Design Award Nomination), Finian’s Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Ma Rainey’s Black BottomKing Hedley II, One Mo’ Time, The Wild Party (FANY Award), Marie Christine (FANY Nomination), Footloose, The Tempest (Drama Desk Nomination), Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches & Perestroika, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Jelly’s Last Jam (Hewes Design Award, Tony Award Nomination and Drama Desk Nomination).

Off-Broadway and regionally she has designed productions for various productions, including; the City Center Encores! series, Lincoln Center Theater, The Public Theatre, The Vineyard Theatre, Second Stage, Playwrights Horizons, Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, Ballet Hispanico, and internationally at the Royal Court and Chichester theaters in England, The Citadel Theatre in Canada, and The Greek Festival in Athens, Greece.

Her television credits include; Whoopi
for NBC, As The World Turns for CBS, The Huey P. Newton Story
directed by Spike Lee, five specials for WNET/13 Great Performances
series and the feature film, A Tale of Two Pizzas directed by Vincent

Peggy Eisenhauer, Lighting Design & Technology

Ms. Eisenhauer designs fluidly between Broadway, Hollywood, and the music industry, maintaining a presence in all three disciplines. She is known most prominently as longtime design partner to the renowned lighting designer Jules Fisher, a 34-year collaboration.

Peggy grew up in Nyack, New York, and studied piano and music theory throughout her school years. In junior high, she joined an established community theatre called The Elmwood Playhouse, helping after school as an apprentice doing menial stage tasks such as painting the reverse side of things black. She eventually was put behind a lighting board (age 13) when another technician did not show up to rehearsal, which began her fascination with lighting. At age 15, she designed her first production at Elmwood. At 16, she was accepted to the drama program in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.

Her first job in New York City was as a followspot operator one summer at the New York Shakespeare Festival. There she met Lighting Designer Richard Nelson. For her final semester at Carnegie, she was granted an internship with Nelson as a second assistant on the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid. After graduation she moved to New York City and pursued fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus Jules Fisher to work as an assistant. Fisher hired her to assist him on the Broadway musical Song and Dance. They have worked together ever since, eventually becoming design partners in 1992 and incorporating as Third Eye.

Broadway design highlights with Fisher include Lucky Guy, Jane Eyre, Ragtime, Noise/Funk, Assassins, Once On This Island, and Victor Victoria to name a few. Highlights in the music industry include designs for Tracy Chapman, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Whitney Houston, and Neil Young. Her designs for film include: Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, School of Rock, Dreamgirls, The Producers, Neil Young Trunk Show, and Burlesque.

In 2010, she was selected as one of Variety’s 100 Women of Impact in Hollywood. In 2012, she was honored with the Carnegie Mellon Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. She is the recipient of three Tony awards and nine nominations.

Todd Rosenthal, Scene Design & Technology

Todd Rosenthal is a Chicago-based set designer. Broadway: August Osage County (Tony Award), The Mother****er with the Hat (Tony and Outer Critics Circle Nomination), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Tony Award Best Revival), Of Mice and Men, This is Our Youth, Fish in the Dark, and Straight White Men.

Select off-Broadway: Red Light Winter, Barrow Street Theater; Domesticated, Lincoln Center; Qualms, Playwrights Horizons; Close Up Space, Manhattan Theatre Club; Nice Fish, St. Ann’s Warehouse. Set designer for 6 years for the Big Apple Circus. International: August Osage County (National Theatre, London, Sydney Theater, Australia); The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Theatre Royal, Ireland); Nice Fish, (Harold Pinter Theatre, West End, London); Madama Butterfly, Dublin, Ireland; and the upcoming Downstate at the National Theatre in London.

Regional: Steppenwolf (33 productions), Goodman (artistic partner), Chicago Shakespeare, Guthrie, Mark Taper Forum, ART, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Berkeley Rep, Alley Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and many others.

Select Museum Exhibitions: Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition and The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes.

Other select awards: Laurence Olivier, Helen Hayes, Ovation, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, Joseph Jefferson, Suzi Bass, and the Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration.

Full Professor, Northwestern University. Graduate, Yale Drama.

Eileen Smitheimer, Sound Design & Technology

Eileen Smitheimer will receive USITT’s 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award in Sound Design and Technology.

Smitheimer is a theater professional and educator focusing on sound and lighting design. She has been designing and assistant designing for more than 30 years across the United States and Europe.

Eileen served for 22 years as the head of audio for the Professional Theatre Training Program, the former graduate theatre conservatory at the University of Delaware (UD). Currently, she is an associate professor in UD’s Department of Theatre, as well as resident sound designer and sound supervisor for the Resident Ensemble Players, the university’s professional theatre company. Eileen has been an active member of the USITT Sound Commission for 35 years, either presenting at the Annual Conference including several sessions on “Women in Audio,” or overseeing the student volunteers for sound lab. She is a proud member of TSDCA and the OISTAT Sound Design Group.

Special Achievement Awards (SAA):

Randy Earle, Honorary Lifetime Member Award

Randy Earle is a Theatre Consultant and partner with Pantechnicon LLC, a leading theatre consulting and design firm in San Jose. He has dozens of theatre consulting projects including work for public and private schools, universities, municipal governments and arts producing organizations since 1976. Significant work includes the Garden and Carriage House Theatres at Montalvo Center for the Arts, complete renovation of five Fremont Union High School District theatres and initial feasibility studies for the California Theatre in San Jose.

Recent work includes the Ruth Asawa School for the Arts, San Francisco Unified School District, where he has designed new performance and production spaces along with renovation of the main auditorium. Other projects where he designed lighting systems and theatre performance and production spaces include The Menlo School, Castilleja School, Hillview Middle School, Head Royce School andMills College’s Lisser Hall and The Harker School.

Randy graduated from Purdue University with an M.A. in Theatre Design and Technology. He was recently recognized as a Distinguished Alumni by the Purdue College of Liberal Arts. He came to San Jose State University in 1970 where had a thirty-eight year career as Professor of Theatre Arts with service as Technical Director, Head of Theatre Arts program and lighting designer in the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre.

Other significant work has included USITT where he served in a number of offices including President and was elected a Fellow. Currently, Randy is Chair of the USITT Fellows and a key member of the Grants and Fellowships Committee.