NY Drama Critics' Circle Awards Go to History Boys, Drowsy Chaperone, Sweeney Todd and Ebersole

By Kenneth Jones
11 May 2006

The Drowsy Chaperone and History Boys.
The Drowsy Chaperone and History Boys.
Photo by Joan Marcus

The History Boys, by Alan Bennett, was named Best Play of the 2005-06 season by the New York Drama Critics' Circle, the membership announced May 11.

The Best Musical award was given to The Drowsy Chaperone (book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison).

The selections were made at the 70th annual voting meeting of the organization May 11 at the offices of Time Out New York in Manhattan.

Two special citations were awarded by the NYDCC: one to John Doyle, Sarah Travis and the company of the revival of Sweeney Todd; and one to Christine Ebersole for her performance in the Off-Broadway musical Grey Gardens. This is the first time in the organization's history that two special citations have been awarded.



The awards will be presented at a cocktail reception to be held on May 23, at the Algonquin Hotel, where the NYDCC was founded in 1935 by such legendary critics and journalists as Brooks Atkinson, Walter Winchell and Robert Benchley.

The prestigious award for best play carries with it a cash prize of $2,500. The award, which was enhanced last year, is made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation.

The History Boys, which is directed by Nicholas Hytner, had its world premiere May 18, 2004 at the National Theatre of Great Britain. It opened at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre on April 23, 2006.

The Drowsy Chaperone, which is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, had its American premiere at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre Nov. 18, 2005. It opened at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre May 1, 2006.

Sweeney Todd (book by Hugh Wheeler, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), directed by John Doyle, with orchestrations and musical supervision by Sarah Travis, had its world premiere at Great Britain's Watermill Theatre in 2004. It opened at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre on Nov. 3, 2005.

Grey Gardens (book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie), directed by Michael Greif, had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons on March 7, 2006 and closed April 30, 2006. There is talk of a commercial run in the future, but no official announcement has been made as of May 11.

The New York Drama Critics' Circle comprises 19 drama critics from daily newspapers, magazines and wire services based in the New York metropolitan area. The New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, which has been awarded every year since 1936 to the best new play of the season (with optional awards for foreign—or American—plays, musicals, and performers), is the nation's second oldest theatre award, after the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Adam Feldman was elected president of the NYDCC in November of last year. Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter and the New York Post serves as vice president; Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press serves as treasurer. In addition to Feldman, Scheck and Kuchwara, the members of the New York Drama Critics' Circle are Clive Barnes of the New York Post; David Cote of Time Out New York; Michael Feingold of the Village Voice; Robert Feldberg of the Bergen Record; Elysa Gardner of USA Today; John Heilpern of The New York Observer; Howard Kissel of the Daily News; Jacques le Sourd of Gannett Newspapers; Jeremy McCarter of New York; David Rooney of Variety; David Sheward of Back Stage; John Simon of Bloomberg News; Michael Sommers of The Star-Ledger/Newhouse Newspapers; Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal; Linda Winer of Newsday; and Richard Zoglin of Time.