Who will get top prize from the New York Drama Critics' Circle?
New York’s toughest critics give out the town’s most prestigious theater award today—who will get the gold?
Mon May 5 2014
Today is the spring meeting of the League of Little Bitches—sorry, the New York Drama Critics' Circle. Yours truly is a member and my trusty associate theater editor, Adam Feldman, is the long-serving president. This august body (first formed in 1935) is comprised of professional theater critics from the city’s main media outlets, an impressive range of men and women—some with decades of experience writing about plays and musicals from Broadway to way Off-Off.
We meet, discuss and vote on what we think should be awarded Best Play, Best Foreign Play, Best Musical, and any people or productions that merit a Special Citation. It can be a long, exhausting process, but it’s also fun to see a roomful of erudite theater mavens argue for their favorites. Unlike the Tony Awards, the Circle is made up of impartial experts who have seen all the plays under discussion. So, even if you share James Franco’s attitude toward critics, you can trust us.
Who will win? I can speak only for myself, but the following shows will be in the forefront of my mind this afternoon.
It’s no secret I loved this witty, sparkling, sublimely crafted musical, with a luscious score and extremely clever lyrics. The Darko Tresnjak production is pretty much perfect, with unforgettable turns from Jefferson Mays, Bryce Pinkham and opera-world crossover star Lauren Worsham. I hope I won’t have to kill anyone to get this one considered.
Then again, this Public Theater musical by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron—based on the fascinating graphic novel by Alison Bechdel—is amazing. Tesori is one of the few composers working in musical theater that gives me hope for the form’s future. It’s only a matter of time before this intimate but emotionally explosive show moves to Broadway. Dilemma!
This, for me, will be a major contender for Best Play. I still can’t forget how shockingly fresh and disturbing Anne Washburn’s high-concept survival drama felt. The power grid goes down, society falls apart, cities burn—how will civilization survive? Washburn’s time-jumping epic examined the persistence and mutation of cultural memory, with an episode of The Simpsons as the focal point. It was quirky yet tragic, literally trivial but boldly universal.
It’s funny to think of this new Caryl Churchill experiment as a good suggestion for Best Foreign Play, since the New York production was acted by Americans, and the play itself (57 tiny scenes) studiously avoids being too culturally specific. Still, Churchill is as English as they come, and the show started out at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
Mark Rylance may be an award magnet, but this double bill from Shakespeare’s Globe is a high point in my years of Shakespeare playgoing. Perhaps the entire cast and crew can get a special citation for putting the audience in a time machine and whisking us to Elizabethan England. Did they have awards back then?
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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)