Danai Gurira, ‘She Loves Me’ Among 2016 Drama Desk Nominees

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Photo Source: Joan Marcus

Announced by Vanessa Williams and Matthew Morrison at Feinstein’s/54 Below this morning, the 61st annual Drama Desk Award nominations honored the best of Broadway and Off-Broadway, with both competing in the same categories. A total of 64 shows in the 2015–16 season earned nominations, a testament to the strength and creativity of this New York theater season.

Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “She Loves Me” led the way with nine nominations, including nods for outstanding musical revival and actors Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, and Nicholas Barasch. The musical’s veteran lyricist Sheldon Harnick will receive a special Drama Desk in recognition also of this season’s productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Rothschild and Sons.”

New Broadway musicals “American Psycho” and “Bright Star” also fared well, nabbing eight and seven nominations, respectively. “The Color Purple,” “First Daughter Suite,” “John,” and “Shuffle Along” each earned six.

Matthew Morrison, Vanessa Williams, and Drama Desk President Charles Wright. Photo courtesy of The Drama Desk Awards.

Danai Gurira will be presented with the special Sam Norkin Award. The Drama Desk said in a statement, “Whether writing about women in wartime Liberia in ‘Eclipsed’ or about an affluent immigrant family from Zimbabwe struggling with assimilation in ‘Familiar,’ Danai Gurira demonstrates great insight, range, and depth, bringing a fresh new voice to American theater.”

Receiving the Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble will be both Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” now playing on Broadway, and Marco Ramirez’s “The Royale,” which finishes an Off-Broadway this weekend at Lincoln Center Theater. Another Special Drama Desk Award will be given to Camp Broadway, which has since 1995 enabled over 300,000 kids to attend Broadway shows by partnering with industry professionals. “For more than 20 years, this indispensable organization has introduced young people to the magic of theater. Camp Broadway plays a crucial role in creating tomorrow’s audiences,” said the Drama Desk.

To be held at The Town Hall June 5, the 61st annual Drama Desk Awards will be hosted by Michael Urie. Founded in 1949 by a group of theater critics and writers, the Drama Desk is the only organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories. Visit dramadeskawards.com for a full list of this year’s nominees.

Outstanding Play
“The Christians,” Playwrights Horizons
“The Humans,” Roundabout Theatre Company
“John,” Signature Theatre
“King Charles III”
“The Royale,” Lincoln Center Theater

Outstanding Musical
“First Daughter Suite,” Public Theater
“Daddy Long Legs”
“School of Rock”
“Shuffle Along”

Outstanding Revival of a Play
“Cloud Nine,” Atlantic Theater Company
“Death of a Salesman,” New Yiddish Rep
“Henry IV,” Donmar Warehouse at St. Ann’s Warehouse
“Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Roundabout Theatre Company
“A View From the Bridge”
“Women Without Men,” Mint Theater Company

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
“The Color Purple”
“The Golden Bride,” National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
“Fiddler on the Roof”
“She Loves Me,” Roundabout Theatre Company
“Spring Awakening”

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Andrew Garman, “The Christians,” Playwrights Horizons
Avi Hoffman, “Death of a Salesman”
Frank Langella, “The Father,” Manhattan Theatre Club
Tim Pigott-Smith, “King Charles III”
Mark Strong, “A View From the Bridge”

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Georgia Engel, “John,” Signature Theatre
Mamie Gummer, “Ugly Lies the Bone,” Roundabout Underground
Marin Ireland, “Ironbound,” Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Women’s Project Theater
Jessica Lange, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”
Nicola Walker, “A View From the Bridge”

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, “Fiddler on the Roof”
Robert Creighton, “Cagney,” York Theatre Company
Michael C. Hall, “Lazarus,” New York Theatre Workshop
Zachary Levi, “She Loves Me”
Benjamin Walker, “American Psycho”

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Laura Benanti, “She Loves Me”
Carmen Cusack, “Bright Star”
Cynthia Erivo, “The Color Purple”
Jessie Mueller, “Waitress”
Annette O’Toole, “Southern Comfort,” Public Theater

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Bill Camp, “The Crucible”
David Furr, “Noises Off,” Roundabout Theatre Company
Matt McGrath, “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” MCC Theater
Richard Thomas, “Incident at Vichy,” Signature Theatre
Michael Shannon, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Brooke Bloom, “Cloud Nine”
Megan Hilty, “Noises Off”
Kellie Overbey, “Women Without Men”
Saycon Sengbloh, “Eclipsed,” Public Theater
Jeanine Serralles, “Gloria,” Vineyard Theatre

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nicholas Barasch, “She Loves Me”
Christopher Fitzgerald, “Waitress”
Baylee Littrell, “Disaster!”
Paul Alexander Nolan, “Bright Star”
A.J. Shively, “Bright Star”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, “The Color Purple”
Alison Fraser, “First Daughter Suite”
Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen,” Second Stage
Jane Krakowski, “She Loves Me”
Mary Testa, “First Daughter Suite”

Outstanding Director of a Play
Rachel Chavkin, “The Royale”
Sam Gold, “John”
Rupert Goold, “King Charles III”
Joe Mantello, “The Humans”
Jenn Thompson, “Women Without Men”
Ivo van Hove, “A View From the Bridge”

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Michael Arden, “Spring Awakening”
John Doyle, “The Color Purple”
Rupert Goold, “American Psycho”
Bartlett Sher, “Fiddler on the Roof”
Bryna Wasserman, Motl Didner, “The Golden Bride”

Outstanding Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, Cagney Spencer Liff, “Spring Awakening”
Lynne Page, “American Psycho”
Randy Skinner, “Dames at Sea”
Savion Glover, “Shuffle Along”

Outstanding Music
Sara Bareilles, “Waitress”
Michael John LaChiusa, “First Daughter Suite”
Andrew Lloyd Webber, “School of Rock”
The Lobbyists, “SeaWife,” Naked Angels
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, “Bright Star”

Outstanding Lyrics
Sara Bareilles, “Waitress”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Dear Evan Hansen”
Glenn Slater, “School of Rock”
Michael John LaChiusa, “First Daughter Suite”

Outstanding Solo Performance
Simon Callow, “Tuesdays at Tesco’s,” 59E59
Kathleen Chalfant, “Rose,” Nora’s Playhouse
James Lecesne, “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey”
Daphne Rubin-Vega, “Empanada Loca”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Fully Committed”

Unique Theatrical Experience
“ADA/AVA,” Manual Cinema/3LD/The Tank
“Antigona,” Soledad Barrio/Noche Flamenca
“That Physics Show”
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show”

Special Awards
“The Humans”: Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
“The Royale”: Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
Sheldon Harnick: Special Drama Desk Award
Camp Broadway: Special Drama Desk Award
Danai Gurira: Sam Norkin Award

UPDATE: Facing the public controversy over their decision to eliminate the Outstanding Book of a Musical category, the Drama Desk Awards nominating committee announced May 2 they would reverse their decision.

Outstanding Book of a Musical
John Caird, “Daddy Long Legs”
Michael John LaChiusa, “First Daughter Suite”
Jessie Nelson, “Waitress”

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