The Drama Desk Awards nominations will be announced the morning of April 19 at the Friars' Club. The awards ceremony, hosted by Bernadette Peters, will take place May 9 at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. (Both dates are a week earlier than those previously announced.) As in past years, the awards and nominations are to be broadcast live on NY-1.
There will also be a Nominees' Cocktail Party April 22, 5-8 PM at the Broadway Grill restaurant.
The Drama Desk Awards recognize excellence in Broadway and Off- Broadway theatre. Last year's winners included The Beauty Queen of Leenane (play), Ragtime (musical), A View From The Bridge (revival play) and Cabaret (revival musical).
The nominating committee this season consists of Drama Desk president David Sheward (Back Stage), Alexis Greene (InTheater), Barbara Siegel (Drama-Logue), committee chairman Frank Scheck (The Hollywood Reporter,), Sam Whitehead (Time Out New York), Harry Haun (Playbill) and David Kaufman (Daily News). (Kaufman replaced Newsday's Patrick Pacheco mid season). Sheward, Greene, Siegel, Scheck and Whitehead are returnees from the previous season.
* Before Awards madness begins, however, the Drama Desk is offering two theatre-related panels to members and the public. March 26, Gwen Verdon, Nicole Fosse, Livent's David Maisell and Todd Haimes, and cast-members of Fosse will discuss the effort to bring Fosse -- one of the season's few musical hits -- to Broadway. Back Stage managing editor and Drama Desk president David Sheward will moderate the panel with freelancer Robert Sandla.
On April 8, Gerald Alessandrini, producer John Freedson and members of the Forbidden Broadway cast will be on hand to speak and, no doubt, perform their parodies. Playbill magazine writer Ellis Nassour moderates with NY Law Journal critic Jeanne Lieberman.
The March 26 panel takes place at the Broadway Grill; the April 8 panel occurs at the Stardust Theatre (home of Forbidden Broadway). For information call (212) 924-0472.
Pundits underwhelmed by the 1998-99 theatre season might prefer to take the long view and remember that even slow years have moments of greatness, and terrific years don't always seem so wonderful when you're in them day-to-day. After doing that for, say, fifty years, a theatregoer can no doubt settle back and recall a lifetime of stars, magic and memories.
Certainly that's what the Drama Desk did Feb. 17, when the organization officially celebrated its 50th anniversary. Past Drama Desk Award winners, as well as current Broadway and Off-Broadway stars, attended a cocktail party at the Broadway Grill.
Attendees at the event included Alessandrini (Forbidden Broadway), Kevin Anderson (Death of a Salesman), Brent Barrett (Chicago), Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown), Jed Bernstein (Executive director of the League of American Theatres & Producers), Kate Burton (The Beauty Queen of Leenane), Zoe Caldwell, Kathleen Chalfant (Wit), Barbara Cook, Lindsay Duncan (Ashes to Ashes), Lisa Emery (Far East), Stephen Flaherty (composer of Ragtime), librettist George Furth, Daniel Gerroll, Adolph Green and Phyllis Newman, Judd Hirsch (Art), Barnard Hughes, Judy Kaye, Swoosie Kurtz (Mineola Twins), LaChanze (Ragtime), Warren Leight (playwright of Side Man), Tsidii Le Loka (The Lion King), Anna Manahan (Beauty Queen), Joe Mantello, Stanley Wayne Mathis and Ilana Levine (both in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Michael Mayer, Donna McKechnie, Judy Parfitt (Night Must Fall), Michele Pawk (Cabaret), John Rubinstein, Douglas Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Stephen Spinella (Electra), Meshach Taylor (Beauty and the Beast), Susan Stroman & Michael Ockrent, Paula Vogel, Ruth Williamson (Little Me), producer Robert Whitehead, Rachel York, Karen Ziemba (Chicago).
Drama Desk president David Sheward told Playbill On-Line he attributed the organization's longevity to its regular meetings, panels and gatherings. "It's the only group that really allows for people who write about theatre to get together on a regular basis and exchange ideas, information and thoughts about the profession. There's no organization like it. Also, the Awards have continued for all these years. They're the most inclusive and comprehensive theatre awards in New York. We include everybody, on and Off-Broadway, on an equal basis in all our categories. Nothing is excluded."
-- By David Lefkowitz