NEW YORK CITY: Every New York theatre season has its share of shows based on works in other media, but such pieces garnered more attention than usual this year from critics’ organizations. As inhabitants of Gotham lined up for a spate of spring awards ceremonies, stage adaptations earned a plethora of accolades.
All four best-musical Tony nominees were either adapted from films or from books already translated into well-known movie versions. Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s Tony front-runner Matilda the Musical was the recipient of top honors at the Drama Desk Awards and from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. The Outer Critics Circle lauded Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots, whose Tony hopes were also high (the Tony results were released after this issue went to print), as the season’s outstanding new musical, and the Drama League named it the year’s distinguished production of a musical. Continuing the trend, Peter Duchan, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s Dogfight picked up the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding musical.
Overall, the influence of cinema was less powerful with Off-Broadway productions and non-musicals. The New York Drama Critics’ Circle named as the year’s best play Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which also received the prizes for distinguished production of a play from the Drama League, outstanding play at the Drama Desk Awards and outstanding new Broadway play from the Outer Critics Circle. The last of these organizations gave its awards for best new Off-Broadway musical to David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love, and outstanding new Off-Broadway play went to Aaron Posner’s My Name Is Asher Lev. At the Obie Awards for Off and Off-Off Broadway, Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) and Annie Baker (The Flick) acquired the prizes for playwriting; and Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit and Julia Jarcho’s Grimly Handsome tied for the title of best new American play, with $500 provided to both dramatists.
Among already-established works, Diane Paulus’s staging of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson’s Pippin obtained the most citations, including top awards from the Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk Awards. Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? earned accolades in the revival of a play category from the Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk Awards.
Among the 12 honorees of the Theatre World Awards for Broadway or Off-Broadway debut performances were Matilda’s Bertie Carvel, Vanya and Sonia’s Shalita Grant, Virginia Woolf’s Carrie Coon and Here Lies Love’s Ruthie Ann Miles and Conrad Ricamora. The regional Tony winner, announced in advance of the June 9 ceremony, was Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company. Full lists of these awards can be found at www.tcg.org/publications/at/awards.cfm.