The Outer Critics Circle officially announced the winners of its 1997 Awards for excellence on and Off-Broadway May 5. The winners were culled from nominations, announced April 21, in 21 categories. Chicago had the strongest showing (5 wins), with The Last Night Of Ballyhoo taking 3 victories, and The Life nabbing Best Musical. Steel Pier had led the field with nine nominations, Alfred Uhry's Ballyhoo had six nominations.
Changes made in this year's categories include the addition of featured actor and actress in both plays and musicals, set/costumes/lighting have been broken into three categories rather than an overall "Design" mention, and outstanding Debut actor/actress has been eliminated.
Omissions were more surprising than inclusions in this year's nominations list. Neither David Hare's Skylight nor the musicals Dream and Play On!, nor the revivals of Annie and Once Upon A Mattress received a single nomination.
The Outer Critics Circle, in its 47th year, comprises writers about New York theatre who publish in out-of-town newspapers, magazines and media. Winners of the OCC Awards will be announced May 5, and, as ever, Sardi's will be the venue for the May 23 award ceremony.
Spokesperson Jim Baldassare told Playbill On-Line the only Broadway show not under consideration this season that will fall into consideration for this year's Tonys is London Assurance. This is an improvement over previous seasons, where the Outer Critics Circle cut-off date for nominations was a full week before the end of the Broadway season, thus lopping off a handful of shows and pushing them into the following year's schedule. Here are the 1996-97 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominees. Winners are in BOLD CAPS:
JOHN GASSNER PLAYWRITING AWARD: Leslie Ayvazian, Nine Armenians.
BROADWAY MUSICAL: THE LIFE; Jekyll & Hyde, Steel Pier, Titanic.
OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL: HOWARD CRABTREE'S WHEN PIGS FLY); I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Green Heart, Violet.
MUSICAL REVIVAL: CHICAGO; Candide, Juan Darien, No Way To Treat A Lady.
BROADWAY PLAY: THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO; An American Daughter, Stanley, Taking Sides.
OFF-BROADWAY PLAY: HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE; A Question Of Mercy, Bunny Bunny, Stonewall Jackson's House
PLAY REVIVAL: A DOLL'S HOUSE; Present Laughter, The Gin Game, The Little Foxes
FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY: TERRY BEAVER (THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO) ; Edward Herrmann (Psychopathia Sexualis), Brian Kerwin (The Little Foxes), Brian Murray (The Little Foxes).
FEATURED ACTRESS IN PLAY: 3-way-tie! -- DEBORAH FINDLAY (Stanley) & ALLISON JANNEY (PRESENT LAUGHTER) & CELIA WESTON (THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO); Jan Maxwell (A Doll's House).
DIRECTOR OF A PLAY: JOHN CAIRD (STANLEY), Ron Lagomarsino The Last Night Of Ballyhoo), Anthony Page (A Doll's House), Dan Sullivan (An American Daughter).
LIGHTING DESIGN: PAUL GALLO (TITANIC) & PETER KACZOROWSKI (STEEL PIER); Ken Billington (Chicago), Beverly Emmons (Jekyll & Hyde).
SOLO PERFORMANCE: FELIX A. PIRE (MEN ON THE VERGE OF A HIS PANIC BREAKDOWN); Maripat Donovan (Late Nite Catechism), Julia Sweeney (God Said `Ha!'), Charlayne Woodard (Neat).
Marjorie Gunner is president of the Outer Critics Circle; playwright/critic Mario Fratti serves as Vice-President.