The 65th Annual Drama Desk Nominations for the Strange and Unusual 2020 Season Announced.

Joshua Henry (C) and the cast of The Wrong Man Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The 65th Annual Drama Desk Nominations Announced.

The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced on Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley’s most wonderful and adorable self-isolating streaming show, “Stars in the House” Wednesday at noon. The virtual daily series beautifully benefits The Actors Fund with twice-daily shows since the beginning of this shutdown. It’s one of the most darling additions to our daily routine as we isolate ourselves at home, one that I can’t say I watch twice a day, but I catch it when I can on their YouTube channel.


It’s a very different season, giving more attention to some earlier shows which might have gotten lost in the season that was planned. Cut short on March 12th, the nominees are from shows that opened before that date, leaving out the numerous big named Broadway shows that were on the verge of opening during the usually busiest time of the year, end of March to the Tony Award deadline late April. Additional details about the 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards announcement on May 31st will be determined as the New York COVID-19 situation allows and announced at a later date. [Click on the name of the show to be redirected to the frontmezzjunkies review.] My favorite to win is notated with a *

The 2020 Drama Desk Nominees:

[1069_v002] Samuel H. Levine, Kyle Soller, Kyle Harris, Arturo Luís Soria, Jordan Barbour and Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr., Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade, 2019

Outstanding Play
Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre
Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, Lincoln Center Theater
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Atlantic Theater Company/LAByrinth Theater Company
Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, Playwrights Horizons
*The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez

James Jackson, Jr., John-Michael Lyles, Jason Veasey, Larry Owens (in red jacket and hat), Antwayn Hopper, John-Andrew Morrison, L Morgan Lee in A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Outstanding Musical
Octet, Signature Theatre
The Secret Life of Bees, Atlantic Theater Company
Soft Power, The Public Theater
*A Strange Loop, Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions
The Wrong Man, MCC Theater

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHINGWritten by William Shakespeare Directed by Kenny Leon
The company of the Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.


Outstanding Revival of a Play
Fefu and Her Friends, Theatre for a New Audience
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, The Public Theater
*Mac Beth, Red Bull Theater/Hunter Theater Project
Much Ado About Nothing, The Public Theater
A Soldier’s Play, Roundabout Theatre Company

0617 - Tammy Blanchard and Jonathan Groff in Little Shop of Horrors (c) Emilio Madrid-Kuser
Jonathan Groff and Tammy Blanchard in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser.

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Little Shop of Horrors
*The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Transport Group
West Side Story

Searedby THERESA REBECK directed by MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL OCT 03 - DEC 01, 2019
Raúl Esparza in MCC Theater’s Seared. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Charles Busch, The Confession of Lily Dare
*Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements
Raúl Esparza, Seared
Francis Jue, Cambodian Rock Band
Triney Sandoval, 72 Miles to Go…
Kyle Soller, The Inheritance

Ruth Negga, Hamlet

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Rose Byrne, Medea
Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
Emily Davis, Is This A Room
April Matthis, Toni Stone
*Ruth Negga, Hamlet

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
David Aron Damane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Chris Dwan, Enter Laughing
Joshua Henry, The Wrong Man
Francis Jue, Soft Power
*Larry Owens, A Strange Loop

[TTM SetUp-231] The cast of TINA THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL, Photo by Manuel Harlan, 2019

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Tammy Blanchard, Little Shop of Horrors
Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Saycon Sengbloh, The Secret Life of Bees
Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill
*Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Victor Almanzar, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
Esteban Andres Cruz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play
*Paul Hilton, The Inheritance
Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

01_©Monique Carboni
Patrice Johnson Chevannes, Elizabeth Canavan, Benja Kay Thomas, Pernell Walker, Victor Almanzar, Liza Colón-Zayas, Andrea Syglowski, Neil Tyrone Pritchard, Wilemina Olivia-Garcia, Sean Carvajal, Kara Young, Viviana Valeria and Esteban Andres Cruz in Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven. Photo by Monique Carboni.

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
*Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age
Kristina Poe, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
Belange Rodríguez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
Lois Smith, The Inheritance

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
George Abud, Emojiland
Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors
Jay Armstrong Johnson, Scotland, PA
Conrad Ricamora, Soft Power
*Ryan Vasquez, The Wrong Man

Lauren Patten and the Company of Jagged Little PillPhoto by Matthew Murphy.

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Yesenia Ayala, West Side Story
Paula Leggett Chase, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
LaChanze, The Secret Life of Beess
Alyse Alan Louis, Soft Power
*Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill

Outstanding Director of a Play
Jessica Blank, Coal Country
*Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance
John Ortiz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
Tina Satter, Is This A Room
Erica Schmidt, Mac Beth

Sophie Kelly-Hedrick, Isabelle Fuhrman, Ayana Workman, Sharlene Cruz in Mac Beth. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.



Outstanding Director of a Musical
Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop
Thomas Kail, The Wrong Man
*Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Leigh Silverman, Soft Power
Annie Tippe, Octet

Outstanding Choreography
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, West Side Story
Keone Madrid and Mari Madrid, Beyond Babel
Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
*Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!
Travis Wall, The Wrong Man

PhotobyCarolRosegg (6)
Beth Malone (top) and the cast of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Outstanding Music
*Ross Golan, The Wrong Man
Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
Dave Malloy, Octet
Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams
Duncan Sheik, The Secret Life of Bees
Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power

New York Music Photographer
(l-r) Eisa Davis, Jai’Len Christine Li Josey, Vita E. Cleveland, LaChanze, Anastacia McCleskey, Nathaniel Stampley, Romelda Teron Benjamin, and Saycon Sengbloh in The Secret Life of Bees. Photo Credit: Ahron R. Foster.

Outstanding Lyrics
Susan Birkenhead, The Secret Life of Bees
Adam Gwon, Scotland, PA
*Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams
Dave Malloy, Octet
Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Outstanding Book of a Musical
*David Henry Hwang, Soft Power
Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
Dave Malloy, Octet
Lynn Nottage, The Secret Life of Bees
Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette
Dick Scanlan, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Francis Jue and the company of Soft Power. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Outstanding Orchestrations
Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill
*Alex Lacamoire, The Wrong Man
Or Matias and Dave Malloy, Octet
Danny Troob, John Clancy, and Larry Hochman, Soft Power
Jonathan Tunick, West Side Story

Outstanding Music in a Play
*Steve Earle, Coal Country
Frightened Rabbit, Square Go
Jim Harbourne, Feral
Martha Redbone, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Adam Seidel, Jane Bruce, and Daniel Ocanto, Original Sound

Isaac Powell, Shereen Pimentel (center) and the cast of West Side Story. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play
*Catherine Cornell, Mac Beth
Clint Ramos, Grand Horizons
Adam Rigg, Fefu and Her Friends
Paul Steinberg, Judgment Day
B.T. Whitehill, The Confession of Lily Dare

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical
Julian Crouch, Little Shop of Horrors
Anna Louizos, Scotland, PA
*Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!
Clint Ramos, Soft Power
Amy Rubin and Brittany Vasta, Octet

The company of for colored girls… Photo credit: Joan Marcus.


Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Asa Benally, Blues for an Alabama Sky
Montana Levi Blanco, Fefu and Her Friends
Toni-Leslie James, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Antony McDonald, Judgment Day
Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn, The Confession of Lily Dare
*Kaye Voyce, Coriolanus

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
Vanessa Leuck, Emojiland
Jeff Mahshie, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Anita Yavich, Soft Power
*Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!

Haley Sakamoto and Edmund Donovan in Greater Clements. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Isabella Byrd, Heroes of the Fourth Turning
Oona Curley, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House
*Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Judgment Day
Yi Zhao, Greater Clements

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
*Betsy Adams, The Wrong Man
Jane Cox, The Secret Life of Bees
Herrick Goldman, Einstein’s Dreams
Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!

[IMG_0604]_Mary-Louise Parker, Will Hochman in THE SOUND INSIDE, Photo by Jeremy Daniel, 2019

Outstanding Projection Design
David Bengali, Einstein’s Dreams
Julia Frey, Medea
*Luke Halls, West Side Story
Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE, Emojiland
Hannah Wasileski, Fires in the Mirror

Heroes of the Fourth TurningWritten by Will Arbery Directed by Danya Taymor
John Zdrojeski, Zoë Winters, Jeb Kreager, Julia McDermott in Heroes of the Fourth Turning at Playwrights Horizons. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play
Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, The Inheritance
Justin Ellington, Heroes of the Fourth Turning
*Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.
Palmer Hefferan, Fefu and Her Friends
Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada, Is This A Room

Jacqueline B. Arnold, Robyn Hurder, Holly James, and Jeigh Madjus in Moulin Rouge!. Photos: © Matthew Murphy, 2019

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical
Tom Gibbons, West Side Story
Kai Harada, Soft Power
*Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!
Hidenori Nakajo, Octet
Nevin Steinberg, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design
*Campbell Young Associates, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Cookie Jordan, Fefu and Her Friends
Nikiya Mathis, STEW
Tom Watson, The Great Society
Bobbie Zlotnik, Emojiland

Laura Linney in My Name is Lucy Barton at Manhattan Theatre Club. Photos: Matthew Murphy.

Outstanding Solo Performance
David Cale, We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time
Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke
Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton
Jacqueline Novak, Get on Your Knees
*Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.

Unique Theatrical Experience
Beyond Babel, Hideaway Circus
Feral, Tortoise in a Nutshell/Cumbernauld Theatre/59E59
Is This A Room, Vineyard Theatre
*Midsummer: A Banquet, Food of Love Productions/Third Rail Projects

Daniel Portman and Gavin Jon Wright in Square Go. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Outstanding Fight Choreography
*Vicki Manderson, Square Go
Thomas Schall, A Soldier’s Play
UnkleDave’s Fight House, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Outstanding Adaptation
A Christmas Carol, by Jack Thorne
Judgment Day, by Christopher Shinn
*Mojada, by Luis Alfaro
Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, by Halley Feiffer

Tavi Gevinson Rebecca Henderson, Chris Perfetti in Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Outstanding Puppet Design
Raphael Mishler, Tumacho
Rockefeller Productions, Paddington Gets in a Jam
Amanda Villalobos, Is This A Room


Special Awards:

Kuhoo Verma, Starr Busby, Kim Blanck, Alex Gibson, Adam Bashian, Justin Gregory Lopez,  Margo Seibert in Octet. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Ensemble Award: To the eight pitch-perfect performers in Dave Malloy’s a cappella musical Octet: Adam Bashian, Kim Blanck, Starr Busby, Alex Gibson, Justin Gregory Lopez, J.D. Mollison, Margo Seibert, and Kuhoo Verma proved instrumental in giving a layered look at modern forms of addiction.

Sam Norkin Award: To actress Mary Bacon, who continued her versatile career of compassionate, searing work for such companies as The Mint, Primary Stages, The Public Theater, and The Actors Theater Company, with two of Off-Broadway’s most humane performances this season in Coal Country at The Public Theater and Nothing Gold Can Stay presented by Partial Comfort Productions.

Written by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen Original Music by Steve Earle Directed by Jessica Blank
Steve Earle (foreground) in Coal Country. Photo credit: Joan Marcus

To The Actors Fund, Seth Rudetsky, and James Wesley for connecting members of the theater community and lifting spirits during the coronavirus crisis. The Actors Fund has worked tirelessly to provide financial and health resources to those impacted by the pandemic; Rudetsky and Wesley’s semi-daily “Stars in the House” webcast is raising funds for The Actors Fund, while providing performances, reunions, and medical updates.

To The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater” that began in 1957 and evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater. The current Mobile Unit tours free Shakespeare throughout the five boroughs, including prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers, reminding audiences new and old that the play really is the thing.

To WP Theater and Julia Miles, the company’s founder who died this spring. Formerly known as The Women’s Project and Productions, the company began in 1978 at American Place Theatre, where Miles served as associate to visionary artistic director Wynn Handman, who also died this spring. WP is the largest, most enduring American company that nurtures and produces works by female-identified creators. Over a little more than four decades, it has changed the demographics of American drama through an unwavering focus on women writers, directors, producers, performers, and craftspeople.

To Claire Warden for her pioneering work as an intimacy choreographer in such recent projects as Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune and Linda Vista, and her leadership in the rapidly emerging movement of intimacy direction. As part of the creative team of Intimacy Directors & Coordinators and Director of Engagement for and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International, she is helping create theater experiences that are safer for performers and more authentic for contemporary audiences.

Set by Bob CousinsCostumes by An d’HuysMusic & Sound by Stefan Gregory Lighting by Sarah Johnston Video by Julia Frey Costume Associate Fauve Ryckebusch Production Stage Manager David Lurie-Perret Assistant Stage Manager Amanda Kosack Casting by Jim C
Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale in Medea at the BAM Harvey Theater; Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYC; Photograph: © 2020 RICHARD TERMINE PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine.

Founded in 1955, the Drama Desk Awards honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. The Drama Desk Awards are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters covering theater.

The mission of the Drama Desk is to recognize outstanding achievement in New York theater and encourage discussion of issues significant to theater professionals. The organization accomplishes these goals by bestowing annual awards in more than 30 categories of theater arts and crafts, hosting the awards celebration, and presenting educational forums and panel discussions on theater topics.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 by New York Times arts reporter Sam Zolotow, Edith Oliver of The New Yorker, and New York Post critic Vernon Rice, among others. Six years later, after Rice’s untimely death, the organization initiated an award in his honor for outstanding achievement Off-Broadway. Subsequently expanded and renamed the Drama Desk Awards, they now recognize accomplishments on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway.

DanaH0088 Deirdre O’Connell
Deirdre O’Connell in Vineyard Theatre‘s Dana H. written by Lucas Hnath. Directed by Les Waters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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