The New York Times reports that the musical, which was seen Off-Broadway last season at Second Stage and earlier this season at Arena Stage, was denied eligibility because "nominators for the two organizations and the show's producers could not agree on a performance schedule and on whether the show would be eligible for awards in all categories."
Drama Desk rules, according to the Times, "permit reconsidering only a show's new elements": That would have meant that only actors J. Robert Spencer and Louis Hobson, who joined the cast for the Arena and subsequent Broadway productions, would have been eligible, and the Normal producers wanted all aspects of the production — and its stars — to be eligible for nomination.
The Outer Critics ruling seems to have been based on scheduling problems. OCC vice president Mario Fratti told the Times, "I was a little surprised — they could have gotten us in with enough time for us to judge if the show was new enough to get a second look for awards. . . .We don't know their reasons. We were willing to see it."
A spokesperson for Next to Normal, however, said, "They can still come and see the show now, and we thought that the reviews today would help make our argument that the show is, in fact, a new show. We would want it to be considered in all categories for awards."
Next to Normal, it should be noted, will be eligible for nominations in all musical categories for the American theatre's highest honor, the Tony Awards.