NEW YORK CITY: Every spring, Gotham becomes a bevy of awards predictions, theatrical red carpets and accolades in the form of shiny statues. With results in from six of the city’s major presenters–the Drama Desk, the Drama League, the Obies, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Outer Critics Circle and the Theatre World Awards–American Theatre tallied the most-honored shows of the 2014 awards season.
Note: the winners of the Tony Awards were announced after press time–except for the special awards. The regional theatre Tony Award, bestowed this year for the first time on a New York–based company: Signature Theatre. Joseph B. Benincasa, Joan Marcus and Charlotte Wilcox received Tony honors for excellence. Costume designer Jane Greenwood received the Tony for lifetime achievement, and Rosie O’Donnell won the Isabelle Stevenson Award, presented for charity work.
The new Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (with music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak and book by Robert L. Freedman) slayed its competition during this year’s season, receiving 13 prizes total. It swept the Drama Desk Awards with seven awards: musical, actor in a musical (Jefferson Mays), featured actress in a musical (Lauren Worsham), director of a musical (Darko Tresnjak), lyrics, book and projection design (Aaron Rhyne). Gentleman’s Guide also triumphed at the Outer Critics Circle Awards with prizes recognizing Freedman’s book, Tresnjak’s direction, Mays’s performance and the production. In addition, Worsham won a Theatre World Award and the show took the Drama League’s top musical award.
The biggest play winner was The Glass Menagerie, with eight prizes. It won two at the Drama Desk Awards, for Celia Keenan-Bolger’s performance and for Nico Muhly’s incidental music. At the Drama League, Menagerie won for outstanding revival, and John Tiffany received the Founders Award for directing. Keenan-Bolger was also honored by the Theatre World with the Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in Theater, and the show took home three accolades from the Outer Critics Circle (for play revival and the performances of Cherry Jones and Brian J. Smith).
Another big winner was Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way, which won the new play awards at the Drama Desk, Drama League, New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Outer Critics Circle. In addition, LBJ portrayer Bryan Cranston won a Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. Final tally: seven.
The top Off-Broadway winner, with seven awards, was the adventurous musical (and Pulitzer finalist) Fun Home, presented by the Public Theater, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. The show took home the Lucille Lortel Award for best musical as well as prizes for lead actor Michael Cerveris and featured actress Judy Kuhn. It was also designated best musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and best new Off-Broadway musical by the Outer Critics Circle. At the Obie Awards, handed out by the Village Voice, the show took honors for director Sam Gold, Kron and Tesori. Sydney Lucas also won a performance award (making her the youngest performer to ever win an Obie).
Another big Off-Broadway winner was the immersive musical Here Lies Love, currently running at the Public Theater–its five Lortel awards included direction (Alex Timbers), lead actress in a musical (Ruthie Ann Miles), costume design (Clint Ramos), lighting design (Justin Townsend) and sound design (M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer).
Other notable awards include a Lortel and two Obies for The Open House by Will Eno; the latter honors went to the playwright and to Oliver Butler for his direction of the show at Signature Theatre. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins tied himself for Best New American Play at the Obies–his An Octoroon, a sold-out hit at Soho Rep, and Appropriate, which ran at the Signature, both received the honor.
A clutch of Off-Off Broadway shows merited Obie approval: Special citations went to Mallory Catlett’s This Was the End at the Chocolate Factory; Heather Christian (music), Jiyoun Chang (lighting) and Hannah Wasileski’s (projection) work on The World Is Round from Ripe Time; and Lucy Thurber’s The Hill Town Plays at Rattle-stick Playwrights Theater. (For a searchable database of winners for these and other major regional awards, visit americantheatre.org.)