Broadway musicals The Life and Steel Pier lead the 1997 Drama Desk Award nominations, with nine nominations apiece.
Nominations for the awards from New York theatre critics were made by Julie Harris (The Gin Game) and Michael Nouri (Victor/Victoria) at 5 PM (ET) April 28. One hundred and twenty two selections were made in 26 categories. Sunday, May 18, will be the date for the actual awards ceremony at Broadway's Booth Theatre. (Drama Desk voters had to send their ballots in by May 13.) The show will be broadcast live on New York-1, 9 PM. Please note that members of the Playbill On-Line club get a 10 percent discount on tickets to the Drama Desk Awards ceremony (see story).
Performing at the ceremony will be Robert Cuccioli (singing Jekyll & Hyde's "This Is The Moment"), Debra Monk (singing "Everybody's Girl" from Steel Pier), Bebe Neuwirth and Marcia Lewis dueting on "Class" (from Chicago), Jay Rogers and Stanley Bojarski offering "Torch Song #1" (from When Pigs Fly), and Michael McElroy performing Violet's "Let It Sing."
Presenting awards will be Charles Busch, Dixie Carter, Michael Chiklis, Alexander H. Cohen, Valerie Harper, Hal Holbrook, James Naughton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Faith Prince, Chita Rivera and Raquel Welch.
Jekyll & Hyde received three Drama Desk nominations, Titanic received one (for orchestration), while Dream was completely overlooked. Chicago led the field in revivals (8 nominations), while Caryl Churchill's The Skriker took 6 nominations (including Outstanding New Play), more than any other play. Sex And Longing received one nomination (for Dana Ivey, cited simultaneously for Last Night Of Ballyhoo); An American Daughter and Stanley received none. Both The Skriker and the musical Violet (7 nominations) proved the biggest surprises, since both were Off-Broadway productions with short runs.
The Drama Desk, which honors quality in Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off Off-Broadway with its annual awards, announced its 1996-1997 nominees at the Friars Club in New York. Local TV station New York-1 carried the announcement live.
David Sheward, president of the Drama Desk and managing editor of Back Stage magazine, told Playbill On-Line in mid-April that the Drama Desk would try to get as many nominees as possible to attend the announcement.
Last year's Drama Desk Awards for best musical and play went to Rent and Master Class, respectively. This year's nominees were chosen by Alexis Greene, Frank Scheck, David Sheward, Michael Sommers, David Patrick Stearns, Jan Stuart and Sydney Weinberg. Their choices were made based on a suggestion ballot sent out to the entire Drama Desk membership. The committee seriously consider suggestions on the list but are not bound by them. Because the suggestions are due over a week before the season ends, several major Broadway productions are, in essence, only considered by the nominating committee for nomination.
Founded in 1949, the Drama Desk offers a forum for "theatre reporters, editors and critics to spotlight areas of concern for the theatrical community and act as a catalyst for educating the public."
The author of "It's A Hit," about long-running Broadway musicals, David Sheward is currently working on another book about show business awards, to be published this year. Aside from the Drama Desk, Sheward is a member of the New York Drama Critics Circle, the Outer Critics Circle, and the American Theatre Critics Association.
Here are the nominees:
OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY
Dealer's Choice (Patrick Marber); How I Learned To Drive (Paula Vogel); The Last Night Of Ballyoo (Alfred Uhry); This Is Our Youth (Kenneth Lonergan); The Skriker (Caryl Churchill).
OUTSTANDING NEW MUSICAL
The Life, Steel Pier, Violet
OUTSTANDING PLAY REVIVAL
A Doll's House, The Gin Game, June Moon, Present Laughter.
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL REVIVAL
Candide, Chicago, Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Michael Gambon (Skylight); Frank Langella (Present Laughter); Daniel Massey (Taking Sides); Donal McCann The Steward Of Christendom); David Morse (How I Learned To Drive); Christopher Plummer (Barrymore).
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Jayne Atkinson (The Skriker); Frances Conroy (The Rehearsal); Shirley Knight (The Young Man From Atlanta); Janet McTeer (A Doll's House); Vanessa Redgrave (Antony And Cleopatra); Lia Williams (Skylight).
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Roert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde); Jim Dale (Candide); Jason Daniely (Candide); Daniel McDonald (Steel Pier); James Naughton (Chicago).
OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY:
Kirk Acevedo (Tooth Of Crime (Second Dance)); Billy Crudup (Three Sisters); David Greenspan (The Boys In The Band); Edward Herrmann (Psychopathia Sexualis); Brian Murray (The Little Foxes); Christopher Evan Welch (Scapin).
OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY:
Kathleen Chalfant (Nine Armenians); Linda Edmond (Nine Armenians); Melissa Errico (The Importance Of Being Earnest); Dana Ivey (The Last Night Of Ballyhoo/Sex And Longing); Allison Janney (Present Laughter); Celia Weston (The Last Night Of Ballyhoo).
OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Stanley Bojarski (Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly); Andre De Shields (Play On!); Joel Grey (Chicago); Sam Harris (The Life); Michael McElroy (Violet); Jay Rogers (When Pigs Fly).
OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Marcia Lewis (Chicago); Andrea Martin (Candide); Debra Monk (Steel Pier); Jennifer Simard (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change); Lillias White (The Life); Ruth Williamson (The Green Heart).
OUTSTANDING SOLO/ONE-PERSON SHOW:
Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues); Eddie Izzard (Eddie Izzard); Fiona Shaw (The Waste Land); Roger Guenveur Smith (A Huey P. Newton Story); Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney's God Said Ha!).
Gerard Alessandrini (Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back); Brian Crawley (Violet); Mark Waldrop (Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly).
OUTSTANDING PLAY DIRECTION:
Mark Brokaw (How I Learned To Drive); Robert LePage The Seven Streams Of The River Ota); Lynn Meadow (Nine Armenians); Mark Wing-Davey (The Skriker); Deborah Warner (The Waste Land).
OUTSTANDING SET - PLAY:
Robert Brill (The Rehearsal); Marina Draghici (The Skriker); David Gallo/Jan Hartley (Bunny Bunny); Derek McLane (Present Laughter); James Noone (The Gin Game).
OUTSTANDING SET - MUSICAL:
Clarke Dunham (Candide); G.W. Mercier/Julie Taymor (Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass); James Morgan (No Way To Treat A Lady); Robin Phillips/James Noone/Christina Poddubiuk (Jekyll & Hyde); Tony Walton/Wendall K. Harrington (Steel Pier).
OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN:
Howard Crabtree (When Pigs Fly); Marina Draghici (The Skriker); Michael Krass (The Rehearsal); G.W. Mercier/Julie Taymor (Juan Darien: A Mass); Martin Pakledinaz (The Life); Ann Roth (Present Laughter).
Michael Gibson (Steel Pier); Joseph Joubert/Buryl Red (Violet); Don Sebesky/Harold Wheeler (The Life); Jonathan Tunick (Titanic).
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL REVUE:
Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly.
UNIQUE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE:
The Beckett Plays; Chimere; The Three Lives Of Lucie Cabrol; The Waste Land; You Say What I Mean But What You Mean Is Not What I Said.
Moscow Theatre Sovremennik for both Three Sisters and Into The Whirlwind.
Tickets to the Drama Desk Awards are onsale to the general public at $125, $100 and $85 (Playbill On-Line members can purchase tickets at a 10 percent discount (see story)). For tickets and information call (212) 563-2266.