Lortel Awards Toast The Dead and Dinner w/Friends May 1

News   Lortel Awards Toast The Dead and Dinner w/Friends May 1 Joy Behar and Sam Harris co-host the 15th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, honoring the best of Off-Broadway, including James Joyce's The Dead and Dinner With Friends, May 1.

Joy Behar and Sam Harris co-host the 15th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, honoring the best of Off-Broadway, including James Joyce's The Dead and Dinner With Friends, May 1.

The League of Off-Broadway Theaters & Producers presents the annual awards, named for the late producer who embraced foreign and new American writers and pioneered the Off Broadway movement. The Dead and Dinner With Friends were named Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Play, respectively, of the 1999-2000 season.

Since the April 4 announcement of the honorees (selected by a panel of journalists without the cumbersome addition of nominees), James Joyce's The Dead, which had previously moved from Off-Broadway's Playwright Horizons to Broadway's Belasco Theatre, closed. Word came April 28 that the production would be resurrected for a special engagement in the summer at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

Awards co-host Harris replaces the previously announced Jesse L. Martin. The Lortel Theatre is at 121 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.

* The Drama Dept.'s staging of The Torch-Bearers was named Outstanding Revival; Susan Stroman was named Outstanding Director for Lincoln Center Theater's Contact (which has moved to Broadway status); Boyd Gaines was named Outstanding Actor, for Contact; Eileen Heckart is Outstanding Actress for The Waverly Gallery.

Design honorees were Kenneth Posner, for his lighting of the Roundabout's Give Me Your Answer, Do! and Manhattan Theatre Club's The Wild Party; David Gallo, for his set design of MTC's The Wild Party; Martin Pakledinaz, for his costume designs for Waste and MTC's The Wild Party.

The octogenarian Eileen Heckart was given the award for Outstanding Body of Work.

As previously announced, Jason Robards, whose legendary performances in the plays of Eugene O'Neill (playing roles in The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hughie, A Moon for the Misbegotten, A Touch of the Poet and Ah, Wilderness!) set a new standard, will be honored with the League's Lifetime Achievement Award.

On May 1, playwrights Charles Busch (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Red Scare on Sunset and the current Tale of the Allergist's Wife) and Israel Horovitz (Today I Am a Fountain Pen, Line, Indian Wants The Bronx) will receive stars on the Playwrights Sidewalk in front of the Lortel Theatre.

The awards were selected by a committee of journalists, including Clive Barnes, Peter Filichia, John Heilpern, Charles Isherwood, Alvin Klein, Michael Kuchwara, Ken Mandelbaum, Emily Nunn, John Simon, Sam Whitehead, John Willis and Linda Winer.

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Donald Margulies' Pulitzer-winning Dinner With Friends, currently a smash at the Variety Arts, is considered one of the great Off-Broadway successes of recent years: A grown-up, four-character, rueful comedy about two couples and how friendships are tested when one couple breaks up. It had previous stagings at the Humana Festival (Actors Theatre of Louisville) and South Coast Repertory Theatre. During its current run, it earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, boosting its business.

James Joyce's The Dead seemed like an unlikely musical theatre idea in an atmosphere of brassy pop spectacles, but audiences rushed to the short run in fall 1999 at Playwrights Horizons. The Richard Nelson-scripted and -directed adaptation (with music by Shaun Davey) moved to Broadway's Belasco Theatre with its 1999 star, Christopher Walken, intact. It closed April 16.