The Drama Desk Award Nominations (and the Winners!) were Announced

ddaward-300x378The Drama Desk Award Nominations were Announced and The Winners have been added!

And Here’s What I Have to Say About it.

by Ross


It was a good day for Roundabout Theatre Company and the off-broadway theatre community this morning, when Tony and Drama Desk-nominated stage and screen stars Vanessa Williams and Matthew Morrison announced the Drama Desk Award nominations at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York.

This was the first nominations that were able to include Shuffle Along, which was the last show to open this Broadway season, having been too late for the Outer Critic and Drama League nominations announced early. Shuffle was nominated for Best Musical, Best Choreography and four technical awards, but surprisingly, none of its stars was nominated.  My guess on Tony Nomination day, we will see a few of these performers slipping into slots made empty when the Off-Broadway nominations are not present.  Audra will get another nomination, and maybe Billy Porter.

HAMILTONJP-articleLargeThe other musical that is being talked about the most this season, Hamilton, was once again not eligible for any nominations as it was considered last year for its Off-Broadway run.  The Broadway  production will most likely be slipped into slots left empty when the Off-Broadway crowd is left out of the running.  And maybe some more love will be given to Tuck Everlasting and Bright Star.  I am very pleased to see First Daughter Suite getting some love and attention in this competitive year of musicals.

The Best Play category shined some needed light on the magnificent Off-Broadway play season that we have been blessed with; three of the five nominees were produced Off-Broadway.  The Humans, which began it’s celebrated run actually Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels/Roundabout Theatre, but quickly moved to Broadway, leaving King Charles III as the only play that originated on Broadway, although it is a British import.

The 61st Annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony will be hosted by Michael Urie, and held at The Town Hall June 5. The Drama Desk Awards bestow their honors on outstanding theatre productions and artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

The winners 🏆 have been announced tonight. I’ll add the winners and any comments in BOLD.

Check out my blog reviews of each production associated with each picture.  The link will be directly after the picture, if I wrote a review.  Click on the link and read, like, share, retweet and enjoy.



Outstanding Play
The Christians, Playwrights Horizons
🏆The Humans, Roundabout Theatre Company
John, Signature Theatre
King Charles III
The Royale, Lincoln Center Theater

I’m surprised to not see Eclipsed and The Father on this list, they both will be on my Tony Nomination prediction list.

Outstanding Musical
First Daughter Suite, Public Theater
Daddy Long Legs
School of Rock
🏆Shuffle Along

I’m hoping the Bright Star and Tuck Everlasting will make it on the Tony nomination list, along with Shuffle Along, Waitress, and Hamilton (naturally, although I have a feeling it won’t be included as much in the acting categories as everyone assumes), come Tuesday morning. But I’m very pleased to see First Daughter Suite here. And School of Rock, which I liked way more then I thought I would.  I doubt it will get much Tony love, except for its star. Since this category included Off-Broadway, why isn’t Dear Evan Hansen on this list? It is one of the best I’ve seen this year.


Outstanding Revival of a Play
Cloud Nine, Atlantic Theater Company
Death of a Salesman, New Yiddish Rep
Henry IV, Donmar Warehouse at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Roundabout Theatre Company
🏆A View from the Bridge
Women Without Men, Mint Theater Company

I didn’t see any of the Off-Broadway revivals except the wonderful Henry IV, which I’m so pleased to see included here (, but where is The Crucible? Blackbird? It seems the Drama Desk didn’t really love these two shows.  And I loved Fool for Love, although I’m not so surprised that it was not included here, although I hope it and its stars are nominated for a Tony.  Those would be my five choices for a Tony nomination.



Outstanding Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
The Golden Bride, National Yiddish Theatre Folkesbiene
Fiddler on the Roof 
🏆She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
Spring Awakening

Good call here.  Dames at Sea was included in the Outer Critics, but I thought it was out of place, so I’m glad to see an Off-Broadway show get some Drama Desk love.  For the Tony nominations, I’m guessing it will be those same Broadway four.


Outstanding Actor in a Play
Andrew Garman, The Christians, Playwrights Horizons
Avi Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
🏆Frank Langella, The Father, Manhattan Theatre Club
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge 

I’m guessing that Ben Whishaw (The Crucible) and Gabriel Byrne (Long Day’s Journey…) will round out the Tony nominations, taking the place of these two fine Off-Broadway actors. Or maybe Jeff Daniels (Blackbird) will sneak in here instead of Whishaw.


Outstanding Actress in a Play
Georgia Engel, John, Signature Theatre
Mamie Gummer, Ugly Lies the Bone, Roundabout Undeground
Marin Ireland, Ironbound, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Women’s Project Theater
🏆Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Nicola Walker, A View from the Bridge

Interesting that only two of these leading ladies are from Broadway productions.  Including in my predictions for Tony love would be Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans), Michelle Williams (Blackbird), and Lupita Nyong’o (Eclipsed), who I’m surprised is not on this list. Were the ladies, especially Sophie Okonedo, from The Crucible considered Featured? (Seems like Saoirse Ronan will be considered a Featured Actress, even with her face all over the advertising.) If not, she might knock one of these ladies off this Tony nomination list. In regards to the Off-Broadway ladies, I’m surprised that Kristine Nielsen (HIR) was not anywhere to be seen, nor was her play.


Outstanding Actor in a Musical
🏆Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Robert Creighton, Cagney, York Theatre Company
Michael C. Hall, Lazarus, New York Theatre Workshop
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Benjamin Walker, American Psycho

I’m thrilled for Zachary Levi making it on this list, and I hope he makes it on the Tony nomination list as well.  Alex Brightman (School of Rock the Musical) most likely will also make that list. I’m not sure who will be the fifth, but most likely it will be Lin-Manuel Miranda, or quite possibly a spoiler from one of these people will be a Shuttle Along leading man (although I’m guessing they will be catagorized as Featured).  I would love to see Andrew Keener-Bolger make the list for Tuck Everlasting, maybe a little more then Levi and a lot more then Walker.

And although this is Off-Broadway, and he can’t get a Tony nomination (at least this year, maybe next), where is Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) who is the heart and the soul of that beautiful musical.


Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
🏆Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Annette O’Toole, Southern Comfort, Public Theater

The four leading Broadway ladies were obvious choices, and now that I’ve seen Waitress, it’s becoming even a tighter race between Benanti, Erivo, and Mueller.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Cusack, but I think she is out muscled here.  The fifth nomination is a puzzle.  I’m guessing it goes to Audra McDonald, the best thing in Shuffle Along and not by either of the Schuyler sisters from Hamilton.

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Bill Camp, The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off, Roundabout Theatre Company
Matt McGrath, The Legend of Georgia McBride, MCC Theater
Richard Thomas, Incident at Vichy, Signature Theatre
🏆Michael Shannon, Long’s Day Journey Into Night

The Outer Critics included Jim Norton (The Crucible) and Robert Sella (Sylvia), but I’m glad Furr from Noises Off got some love, as did the Off-Broadway boys. Maybe we’ll see one of the supporting actors from View from the Bridge, The Humans, or King Charles III get included in the Tony race.


Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Brooke Bloom, Cloud Nine
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Kellie Overbey, Women Without Men
🏆Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed, Public Theater
Jeanine Serralles, Gloria, Vineyard Theatre

Very glad Megan Hilty is on this list, as I thought she was just brilliant in Noises Off. This category will probably be an Eclipsed love fest with the Tony nominations, including Pascale Armand and Zainab Jah (Eclipsed).  And wondering if Judith Light (Thérèse Raquin) will sneak onto this list. or someone from The Humans or Saoirse Ronan (The Crucible).


Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nicholas Barasch, She Loves Me
🏆Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Baylee Littrell, Disaster!
Paul Alexander Nolan, Bright Star
A.J. Shively, Bright Star

In the Outer Critics, it was Roger Bart from Disaster!, and Terrence Mann (Tuck Everlasting the Musical) was also included, although I’m happy for the inclusion of the two wonderful gentlemen from Bright Star. Will a few of the Hamilton men slip in here perhaps? Daveed Diggs? Christopher Jackson? or even Jonathon Groff, my personal favorite. Brooks Ashmanskas from Shuffle Along might also slip in for Shuffle Along but I doubt it. One of the four male Shuffle Along boys, like Billy Porter, may slip in there as well.

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Alison Fraser, First Daughter Suite
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen, Second Stage
🏆Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Mary Testa, First Daughter Suite

It is ever so sweet, that Testa and Fraser from Suite made it on this list.  I loved that show down at the Public Theatre.  And very happy for Jones from Dear Evan Hansen, and Brooks (The Color Purple). The real star and the one to beat though will be Krakowski. Maybe the Tony five will also have Andrea Burns (On Your Feet!) and Heléne Yorke (American Psycho the Musical), but I’m hoping it will be Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along) and one of the lovely waitresses, Kimiko Glenn or Keale Settle from Waitress.

Humans, The Laura Pels Theatre
Outstanding Director of a Play
Rachel Chavkin, The Royale
Sam Gold, John
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Jenn Thompson, Women Without Men
🏆Ivo van Hove, A View from the Bridge

Thrilled for all on the list, but I’m guessing this is the year of Ivo, and The Crucible will also make the Tony list, beside Mantello and Goold.  To round out the list maybe Doug Hughes for The Father will be there as well. Not to forget the directors of Eclipsed (Liesl Tommy). Blackbird (Mantello again), and Long Day’s Journey.. (Jonathan Kent), but I’m going to bet they don’t.

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
🏆John Doyle, The Color Purple
Rupert Goold, American Psycho
🏆Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof
Bryna Wasserman, Motl Didner, The Golden Bride

It is a given that Thomas Kail will be on this list come Tony nom morning, for directing Hamilton, but I might take Sher and Goold off the list in exchange for Casey Nickolaw for Tuck, Diane Paulus for Waitress, Walter Bobbie for Bright Star, or Scott Ellis for She Loves Me. And what about John Doyle for Color Purple?

Outstanding Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, Cagney
Spencer Liff, Spring Awakening
Lynne Page, American Psycho
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
🏆Savion Glover, Shuffle Along

Very pleased that Liff and Glover made it here, and I’m sure we will see Andy Blankenbuehler from Hamilton. All three did amazingly powerful work. I would also love to see Casey Nickolaw from Tuck Everlasting  included, and Page not on the Tony nomination list.  I thought the choreography for American Psycho was just so ugly, but I might be a minority in that regard. I also loved the work on Fiddler on the Roof (Hofesh Shechter) and Bright Star (Josh Rhodes).  This is also Shuffle Along’s best chance to win a Tony, now that it will be considered as a New Musical (not that I think it would have won Best Musical Revival either)



Outstanding Music
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
Michael John LaChiusa, First Daughter Suite,
Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock
The Lobbyists, SeaWife, Naked Angels
🏆Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star

Outstanding Book of a Musical

🏆John Caird, Daddy Long Legs

Here again, the main competitor will be Miranda for Hamilton, but it’s great to see Bareilles in here, and Steven Martin and Edie Brickell, as they all did such superb work crafting beautiful music that fit the tone and story of their respective shows. The fifth show for the Tony nominations might be Tuck Everlasting (Chris Miller) over the ugly sounds of American Psycho.

Outstanding Lyrics
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
🏆Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen
Glenn Slater, School of Rock
Michael John LaChiusa, First Daughter Suite

Miranda and Hamilton will once again show their majestic heads here, but I’m glad for Bareilles and Waitress, which I thought was beautiful, both in music and lyrics.  Maybe more musically then lyrics-wise, but only slightly.  Nathan Tyson of Tuck may sneak on to this list along with Edie Brickell for Bright Star.

Outstanding Orchestrations
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
🏆Larry Hochman, She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
Joseph Joubert/Catherine Jayes, The Color Purple
Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock
Michael Starobin/Bruce Coughlin, First Daughter Suite

Outstanding Music in a Play
Billie Joe Armstrong, These Paper Bullets!, Atlantic Theatre Company
Estelle Bajou, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, One Year Lease Theater Company
Shaun Davey, Pericles, Theatre for a New Audience
🏆Philip Glass, The Crucible
Tom Kitt, Cymbeline, New York Shakespeare Festival

I just loved the music Philip Glass created for The Crucible, but I’m also happy to see Kitt for Cymbeline here too.  Getting to see Raul Esparza in Cymbeline was a joy, and the music only added to the pleasure.


Outstanding Set Design for a Play
Riccardo Hernandez, Red Speedo, New York Theatre Workshop
Mimi Lien, John
G. W. Mercier, Head of Passes, Public Theater
🏆Christopher Oram, Hughie
Derek McLane, Fully Committed

Fascinating that only one Broadway play made it on this list, I’m guessing the Tony nominations will include The Father, Long Day’s Journey…, The Humans, The Crucible, and maybe View from the Bridge.


Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
Es Devlin, American Psycho
Emily Orling, Matt Saunders, Eric Farber, Futurity, Soho Rep/Ars Nova
🏆David Rockwell, She Loves Me

I’m hoping that Rockwell will reign over Devlin, even though the set design was impeccable for American Psycho, She Loves Me was just so lovely.  Who else will get a nomination? I’m sure Walt Spangler for Tuck (he got an Outer Critics nomination), John Doyle for Color Purple, and/or Eugene Lee for Bright Star.

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Jessica Ford, These Paper Bullets!
Martha Hally, Women Without Men
Constance Hoffman, Pericles
William Ivey Long, Shows for Days, Lincoln Center Theater
🏆Anita Yavich, The Legend of Georgia McBride

Gotta love William Ivey Long’s work.  Always.

Allegiance - A New American Musical at The Old Globe.  Photo by Henry DiRocco.

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
Jane Greenwood, Bright Star
Katrina Lindsay, American Psycho
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Alejo Vietti, Allegiance
🏆Ann Roth, Shuffle Along

Five good choices, so which one will be dropped so Paul Tazewell from Hamilton can be added when the Tony nominations are announced Tuesday?

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Neil Austin, Hughie
Mark Barton, John
Bradley King, Empanada Loca, Labyrinth Theater Company
Tyler Micoleau, Antlia Pneumatica, Playwrights Horizons
🏆Justin Townsend, The Humans

Of this group of five, I only saw The Humans, so I can’t really comment other then to say maybe a few shows that aren’t getting enough Tony love will sneak in here, like Therese Raquin or Fool for Love, as well as Long Day’s Journey…

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
Jane Cox, The Color Purple
Jake DeGroot, SeaWife,
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
🏆Justin Townsend, American Psycho
Jules Fisher/Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along

Once again, all good choices but which one will be the fifth come Tony nomination morning? Howell Binkley from Hamilton? or another show like Tuck (Kenneth Posner) or Bright Star (Japhy Weideman), all three doing stellar work.



Outstanding Projection Design 
Nicholas Hussong, These Paper Bullets!
Darrel Maloney, Tappin’ Thru Life
Peter Nigrini, Dear Evan Hansen
🏆Finn Ross, American Psycho
Tal Yarden, Lazarus

My favorite of course is the beautifully told story, Dear Evan Hansen, and the projections play such a huge integral part of the plot. And it’s so well done. Peter Nigrini, nominated for an Outer Critics Award, also did some spectacular work on Grounded. On that note, I’m so sad that I never got to see Lazarus.

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Fitz Patton, An Act of God
🏆Fitz Patton, The Humans
Miles Polaski, Fulfillment, The Flea Theatre
Bray Poor, John
Ryan Rumery, Empanada Loca


Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Mick Potter, School of Rock
Brian Ronan, Lazarus
Nevin Steinberg, Bright Star
🏆Dan Moses Schreier, American Psycho
Scott Lehrer, Shuffle Along


Outstanding Wig and Hair
David Brian Brown, She Loves Me
Jason Hayes, The Legend of Georgia McBride
Robert-Charles Vallance, Women Without Men
Charles G. LaPointe, The School for Scandal, Red Bull Theater
🏆Mia M. Neal, Shuffle Along


Outstanding Solo Performance
Simon Callow, Tuesdays at Tesco’s, 59E59
Kathleen Chalfant, Rose, Nora’s Playhouse
James Lecesne, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Empanada Loca
🏆Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fully Committed

YAY for Ferguson, but I will say BOO for not including Anne Hathaway for Grounded.

Unique Theatrical Experience
ADA/AVA, Manual Cinema/3LD/The Tank/
Antigona – Soledad Barrio/Noche Flamenca
🏆That Physics Show 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

Special Awards

The Humans – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
Cassie Beck, Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed, and Sarah Steele spend a very special Thanksgiving Day together in Stephen Karam’s play, reminding us that home is indeed where The Humans are.


The Royale – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
The heavyweight cast of McKinley Belcher III, Khris Davis, Montego Glover, John Lavelle, and Clarke Peters gels as a unit in bringing Marco Ramirez’s story, inspired by Jack Johnson, to unforgettable life, offering a trenchant statement on racism in America.

Sheldon Harnick, She Loves Me

Sheldon Harnick – Special Drama Desk Award
New productions of Fiddler on the RoofRothschild and Sons, and She Loves Me this season remind us that this veteran lyricist’s takes on faith, family and community are as resonant as ever.


Camp Broadway – Special Drama Desk Award
For more than 20 years, this indispensable organization has introduced young people to the magic of theater. Camp Broadway plays a crucial role in creating tomorrow’s audiences.


Danai Gurira – Sam Norkin Award
Whether writing about women in wartime Liberia in Eclipsed or about an affluent immigrant family from Zimbabwe struggling with assimilation in Familiar, Danai Gurira demonstrates great insight, range, and depth, bringing a fresh new voice to American theater.

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