The Theatre World Award is an American honor presented annually to actors and actresses in recognition of an outstanding New York City stage debut performance, either on Broadway or off-Broadway. It was first awarded for the 1945–1946 theatre season.
The inaugural recipients included Betty Comden, Judy Holliday and John Raitt. Winners are selected by a committee of New York-based critics. That committee includes (as of May 2015) Roma Torre (NY1), David Cote (Time Out New York, NY1), Joe Dziemianowicz (New York Daily News), Peter Filichia (The Newark Star-Ledger, Emeritus), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (TalkinBroadway.com), and Frank Scheck (New York Post). 
Special honorary awards
The Dorothy Loudon Starbaby Award was instituted in 2009, named in honor of actress and singer Dorothy Loudon (1925–2003) and since 2010 has been awarded by the Dorothy Loudon Foundation in connection with these awards. The first Starbaby Award was presented to Susan Louise O'Connor (Blithe Spirit). Other recipients are Bobby Steggert (Ragtime and Yank!) (2009–10), Seth Numrich (War Horse) (2010–11), and Susan Pourfar (Tribes). In 2013, it was renamed Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater.
The first annual Lunt–Fontanne Award for Ensemble Excellence was presented at the 2010–11 Awards, to the cast of The Motherf**ker with the Hat – Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Annabella Sciorra, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Yul Vázquez. The award is in honor of the late Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and is presented to an outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway ensemble.
John Willis Award
A new award, the John Willis Award, was first instituted for the 2012–13 season. It is given for "lifetime achievement in the theatre" to honor John Willis who created and maintained the Theatre World tradition for 66 years, encouraging new talent in an often challenging business." The first recipient was Alan Alda.
The award ceremony
The winners for the 2010–11 season were announced on May 10, 2011, with a ceremony held on June 7; the awards are traditionally presented by former award winners. The awards for the 2011–11 season were announced on May 8, 2012 and presented at a ceremony held on June 5, 2012 at the Belasco Theatre.
The awards for the 2012–13 season were announced on May 7, 2013, and the 69th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony was held on June 3 at the Music Box Theater. The awards for the 2013–14 season were announced on May 6, 2014, and the ceremony was held on June 2, 2014 at Circle in the Square. The awards for the 2014–15 season were announced on May 5, 2015; the ceremony will be held on June 1, 2015 at the Lyric Theatre.
Past recipients, from 1944–45 to 2012–13
- Viagas, Robert. "Dates Announced for 71st Annual Theatre World Awards; Chita Rivera To Be Honored", playbill.com, May 1, 2015.
- Gans, Andrew. "Tom Hanks, Bertie Carvel, Valisia LeKae, Rob McClure and More Are Theatre World Award Winners" playbill.com, May 7, 2013.
- Gans, Andrew."Theatre World Awards Presented to Tracie Bennett, Jeremy Jordan, Jennifer Lim and More June 5", playbill.com, June 5, 2012.
- "History" theatreworldawards.org, retrieved June 1, 2018
- Gans, Andrew.Bobby Steggert to Receive Dorothy Loudon Starbaby Award at Theatre World Awards" playbill.com, May 20, 2010.
- Gans, Andrew."Ellen Barkin, Patina Miller, John Larroquette, Jim Parsons, Tony Sheldon and More Win Theatre World Awards", playbill.com, May 10, 2011.
- BWW News Desk.2010-11 "Theatre World Award Winners Announced - Barkin, Hemingway, Larroquette, Miller, Quinto, Sheldon, 'Motherf**cker' & More" broadwayworld.com, May 10, 2011.
- Lloyd Webber, Imogen. "Ramin Karimloo, Zachary Levi & Chris O'Dowd Among 2014 Theatre World Award Winners" broadway.com, May 6, 2014
- Viagas, Robert. "Broadway Siblings Megan and Robert Fairchild Among 71st Annual Theatre World Award Winners" playbill.com, May 5, 2015
- "Past Recipients". Theatre World Awards. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
- "Past Recipients" theatreworldawards.org, accessed May 2, 2015
- "Theatre World Award Recipients". Theatre World Awards (official site). Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
- Andrew Gans (May 11, 2009). "Billy Boys, Gwynne, Ireland, Rush and Grisetti Among Theatre World Award Winners". playbill.com. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Viagas, Robert. "71st Annual Theatre World Award Announced Today – Chita Rivera Earns Lifetime Achievement Honor" playbill.com, May 5, 2015
- Gans, Andrew. "Theatre World Awards Announce 2016 Winners" playbill.com, May 2, 2016
- BWW News Desk. "Breaking: Stars from 'Great Comet', 'Anastasia', 'Miss Saigon' & More Earn 2017 Theatre World Awards!" BroadwayWorld.com, May 11, 2017