The New York Drama Critics' Circle met today to vote for its 81st annual awards. The big winners were The Humans (Best Play) and Shuffle Along (Best Musical), both of which are currently playing on Broadway.
The NYDCC is made up of 22 critics from New York's main newspapers, magazines and theater websites—except the New York Times, which bars its critics from voting for awards—and we're a pretty opinionated bunch. It can be hard to choose a winner, given the diversity of our tastes and the large number of plays and musicals that open on Broadway and Off Broadway in a given season. No play has won a majority on the first ballot since Lynn Nottage's Ruined in 2009; in fact, no play in the past five years has earned more than five first-ballot votes. That streak ended today, with Stephen Karam's The Humans winning nine votes. Though that wasn't a majority, the play won by a solid margin on the weighted ballot that followed, winning 35 points. Annie Baker's John came in second with 19 points, followed by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Gloria (14 points) and Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed (12 points). This is Karam's second NYDCC Award for Best Play; he also won in 2012 for Sons of the Prophet—which, like The Humans, was produced Off Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company.
The competition for Best Musical, which Hamilton won easily last year, came down to Shuffle Along and Dear Evan Hansen, each of which received seven votes on the first ballot. But Shuffle Along won convincingly on the weighted ballot, with 44 points to Dear Evan Hansen's 25 points. American Psycho (17 points) and First Daughter Suite (14 points) followed.
We also voted to award three Special Citations: to Oskar Eustis for his outstanding leadership of the Public Theater; to actor Lois Smith for career achievement, including in this season’s John and Marjorie Prime; and to Ivo van Hove and Jan Versweyveld for collaborative achievement in direction and design, including in this season’s A View from the Bridge and The Crucible.
The sheer volume of theater awards at this time of year is overwhelming: not just the Tony Awards, but the Obie Awards, the Lucille Lortel Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Desk Awards, the Drama League Awards, the Theater World Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Astaire Awards, the Audience Choice Awards, and probably several others I'm forgetting right now. (The NYDCC voting meeting today, over which I presided as the NYDCC's president, started at 4:30pm; earlier, at noon, I was at a different awards meeting, for Actor's Equity's Clarence Derwent and Richard Seff Awards.)
One of the things that sets the Drama Critics' Circle Awards apart is our transparency. A full breakdown of the voting, ballot by ballot, has been posted New York Drama Critics' Circle website. If you're curious to see how your tastes lines up with those of the city's most prominent theater critics, take a look.
Congratulations to all the honorees.