How's this for an example of an Awards Programme - or, rather, the organisers and sponsors of the award - punching above their weight: the student theatre group Hasty Pudding Theatricals has just honoured the Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones in a public ceremony, the latest in a long tradition of leading name actors who have accepted the Hasty Pudding Awards. Later this month actor Tim Robbins will receive the Man of the Year Award.
Of course, this is no ordinary student theatre group. Hasty Pudding has been presenting student-written theatre in Cambridge, Mass, since 1891. The group has its origins as far back as 1795. And, of course, it is based in the upper-crust university of Harvard. Perhaps using the industry connections of Harvard alumni (ooh, so cynical!), the group introduced its Woman of the Year awards in 1951. Past recipients have included Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Meg Ryan, and Sandra Bullock. In 1967 the Man of the Year awards were introduced, and winners of this accolade include Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins and Bruce Willis.
For her acceptance ceremony this year, Catherine Zeta Jones was surrounded by an entire troupe dressed in drag costume. Entering into the spirit of the occasion, she sang an impromtu verse of a song from Chigaco, the screen musical for which she was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Just one further point we'd like to raise regarding these extraordinary awards. It seems that some of the language used on the Hasty Pudding web site clearly doesn't travel too well across the Atlantic. We had to stifle a chuckle when reading these extracts from the group's page on the Man and Woman of the Year 2005: "Following the parade, the President of the Theatricals, Matt Ferrante '05, and the Vice President of the Cast, Sam Gale Rosen '06, will roast the celebrity and present her with her Pudding Pot...". They continue: "On Thursday, February 17th, Man of the Year will take place. The producers of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Romina Garber '06 and Charles Worthington '06 , will roast the winner and present him with his Pudding Pot...". You British readers can see where we're going with this, can't you? Need I mention Premiership footballers, hotel rooms and tabloid newspapers? Oh dear, Catherine being roasted by men in drag. These really are a surreal set of awards.