Drama Desk Awards

The Show Goes On with Annual Ceremony

By: - Apr 26, 2020

While the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing have yet to announce a new date for the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards will air at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31.

However, due to the pandemic, this year’s edition will not feature a traditional ceremony. Instead, the public will learn the winners during a special presentation of Spectrum News NY1’s “On Stage.” Also, the awards special will stream on and

The annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony honors outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway. Those who vote on the awards include theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters covering theater. Members of the theater community founded the Drama Desk Awards in 1955.

Here are the nominees:

Outstanding Play
* Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre
* Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, Lincoln Center Theater
* Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Atlantic Theater Company/LAByrinth Theater Company
* Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, Playwrights Horizons
* The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez

Outstanding Musical
* Octet, Signature Theatre
* The Secret Life of Bees, Atlantic Theater Company
* Soft Power, The Public Theater
* A Strange Loop, Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions
* The Wrong Man, MCC Theater

Outstanding Revival of a Play
* Fefu and Her Friends, Theatre for a New Audience
* for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, The Public Theater
* Mac Beth, Red Bull Theater/Hunter Theater Project
* Much Ado About Nothing, The Public Theater
* A Soldier’s Play, Roundabout Theatre Company

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
* Little Shop of Horrors
* The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Transport Group
* West Side Story

Outstanding Actor in a Play
* Charles Busch, The Confession of Lily Dare
* Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements
* Raúl Esparza, Seared
* Francis Jue, Cambodian Rock Band
* Triney Sandoval, 72 Miles to Go…
* Kyle Soller, The Inheritance

Outstanding Actress in a Play
* Rose Byrne, Medea
* Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* Emily Davis, Is This A Room
* April Matthis, Toni Stone
* Ruth Negga, Hamlet

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
* David Aron Damane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
* Chris Dwan, Enter Laughing
* Joshua Henry, The Wrong Man
* Francis Jue, Soft Power
* Larry Owens, A Strange Loop

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
* Tammy Blanchard, Little Shop of Horrors
* Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
* Saycon Sengbloh, The Secret Life of Bees
* Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill
* Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
* Victor Almanzar, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* Esteban Andres Cruz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play
* Paul Hilton, The Inheritance
* Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
* Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age
* Kristina Poe, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* Belange Rodríguez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
* Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* Lois Smith, The Inheritance

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
* George Abud, Emojiland
* Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors
* Jay Armstrong Johnson, Scotland, PA
* Conrad Ricamora, Soft Power
* Ryan Vasquez, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
* Yesenia Ayala, West Side Story
* Paula Leggett Chase, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
* LaChanze, The Secret Life of Bees
* Alyse Alan Louis, Soft Power
* Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill

Outstanding Director of a Play
* Jessica Blank, Coal Country
* Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance
* John Ortiz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven
* Tina Satter, Is This A Room
* Erica Schmidt, Mac Beth

Outstanding Director of a Musical
* Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop
* Thomas Kail, The Wrong Man
* Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
* Leigh Silverman, Soft Power
* Annie Tippe, Octet

Outstanding Choreography
* Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
* Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, West Side Story
* Keone Madrid and Mari Madrid, Beyond Babel
* Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
* Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!
* Travis Wall, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Music
* Ross Golan, The Wrong Man
* Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
* Dave Malloy, Octet
* Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams
* Duncan Sheik, The Secret Life of Bees
* Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power

Outstanding Lyrics
* Susan Birkenhead, The Secret Life of Bees
* Adam Gwon, Scotland, PA
* Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
* Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams
* Dave Malloy, Octet
* Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Outstanding Book of a Musical
* David Henry Hwang, Soft Power
* Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop
* Dave Malloy, Octet
* Lynn Nottage, The Secret Life of Bees
* Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette
* Dick Scanlan, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Outstanding Orchestrations

* Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill
* Alex Lacamoire, The Wrong Man
* Or Matias and Dave Malloy, Octet
* Danny Troob, John Clancy, and Larry Hochman, Soft Power
* Jonathan Tunick, West Side Story

Outstanding Music in a Play
* Steve Earle, Coal Country
* Frightened Rabbit, Square Go
* Jim Harbourne, Feral
* Martha Redbone, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
* Adam Seidel, Jane Bruce, and Daniel Ocanto, Original Sound

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play
* Catherine Cornell, Mac Beth
* Clint Ramos, Grand Horizons
* Adam Rigg, Fefu and Her Friends
* Paul Steinberg, Judgment Day
* B.T. Whitehill, The Confession of Lily Dare

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical
* Julian Crouch, Little Shop of Horrors
* Anna Louizos, Scotland, PA
* Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!
* Clint Ramos, Soft Power
* Amy Rubin and Brittany Vasta, Octet

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
* Asa Benally, Blues for an Alabama Sky
* Montana Levi Blanco, Fefu and Her Friends
* Toni-Leslie James, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
* Antony McDonald, Judgment Day
* Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn, The Confession of Lily Dare
* Kaye Voyce, Coriolanus

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
* Vanessa Leuck, Emojiland
* Jeff Mahshie, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
* Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
* Anita Yavich, Soft Power
* Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
* Isabella Byrd, Heroes of the Fourth Turning
* Oona Curley, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House
* Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside
* Mimi Jordan Sherin, Judgment Day
* Yi Zhao, Greater Clements

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
* Betsy Adams, The Wrong Man
* Jane Cox, The Secret Life of Bees
* Herrick Goldman, Einstein’s Dreams
* Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
* Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!

Outstanding Projection Design
* David Bengali, Einstein’s Dreams
* Julia Frey, Medea
* Luke Halls, West Side Story
* Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE, Emojiland
* Hannah Wasileski, Fires in the Mirror

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play
* Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, The Inheritance
* Justin Ellington, Heroes of the Fourth Turning
* Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.
* Palmer Hefferan, Fefu and Her Friends
* Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada, Is This A Room

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical
* Tom Gibbons, West Side Story
* Kai Harada, Soft Power
* Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!
* Hidenori Nakajo, Octet
* Nevin Steinberg, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design
* Campbell Young Associates, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
* Cookie Jordan, Fefu and Her Friends
* Nikiya Mathis, STEW
* Tom Watson, The Great Society
* Bobbie Zlotnik, Emojiland

Outstanding Solo Performance
* David Cale, We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time
* Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke
* Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton
* Jacqueline Novak, Get on Your Knees
* Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.

Unique Theatrical Experience
* Beyond Babel, Hideaway Circus
* Feral, Tortoise in a Nutshell/Cumbernauld Theatre/59E59
* Is This A Room, Vineyard Theatre
* Midsummer: A Banquet, Food of Love Productions/Third Rail Projects

Outstanding Fight Choreography
* Vicki Manderson, Square Go
* Thomas Schall, A Soldier’s Play
* UnkleDave’s Fight House, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Outstanding Adaptation
* A Christmas Carol, by Jack Thorne
* Judgment Day, by Christopher Shinn
* Mojada, by Luis Alfaro
* Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, by Halley Feiffer

Outstanding Puppet Design
* Raphael Mishler, Tumacho
* Rockefeller Productions, Paddington Gets in a Jam
* Amanda Villalobos, Is This A Room


Meanwhile, the Drama Desk committee presented the following “Special Awards.” Specifically:

* The “Ensemble Award” went to the eight pitch-perfect performers in Dave Malloy’s a cappella musical Octet: Adam Bashian, Kim Blanck, Starr Busby, Alex Gibson, Justin Gregory Lopez, J.D. Mollison, Margo Seibert, and Kuhoo Verma proved instrumental in giving a layered look at modern forms of addiction.

* The Sam Norkin Award went to: Actress Mary Bacon. She continued her versatile career of compassionate, searing work for such companies as The Mint, Primary Stages, The Public Theater, and The Actors Theater Company, with two of Off-Broadway’s most humane performances this season in Coal Country at the Public Theater and Nothing Gold Can Stay, presented by Partial Comfort Productions.

In addition, the committee presented honors:

* To The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater.” It began in 1957 and evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater. The current Mobile Unit tours free Shakespeare productions throughout the five boroughs. The unit performs for people at places such as prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers —  reminding audiences that the play really is the thing.

* To WP Theater and Julia Miles, the company’s founder who died this spring. Formerly known as The Women’s Project and Productions, the company began in 1978 at American Place Theatre. There, Miles served as associate to visionary artistic director Wynn Handman, who also died this spring. WP is the largest, most enduring American company that nurtures and produces works by female-identified creators. Over a little more than four decades, it has changed the demographics of American drama through an unwavering focus on women writers, directors, producers, performers, and craftspeople.

* To Claire Warden for her pioneering work as an intimacy choreographer in such recent projects as Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune and Linda Vista, and her leadership in the rapidly emerging movement of intimacy direction. As part of the creative team of Intimacy Directors & Coordinators and Director of Engagement for and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International, Warden is helping create theater experiences that are safer for performers and more authentic for contemporary audiences.