Through cut short in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019–20 NYC theater season still had much to celebrate—and celebrate we will, thanks to the 2020 Drama Desk nominations.
Announced (digitally, of course) on the April 21 installment of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley’s “Stars in the House,” the nominations recognized Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway plays and musicals that opened before March 12, the day theaters were forced to shutter.
The best musical nominees are “Octet,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Soft Power,” “A Strange Loop,” and “The Wrong Man.” On the acting front, Tammy Blanchard, Beth Malone, Saycon Sengbloh, Elizabeth Stanley, and Adrienne Warren notched nods in the leading actress category; the leading actor category, meanwhile, includes David Aaron Damane, Chris Dwan, Joshua Henry, Francis Jue, and Larry Owens.
As for the straight plays, “Cambodian Rock Band,” “Greater Clements,” “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven,” “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” and “The Inheritance” will compete for top honors. In the acting categories, Rose Byrne, Liza Colón-Zayas, Emily Davis, April Matthis, and Ruth Negga will go head to head. For the men, recognition was given to Jue again, Charles Busch, Edmund Donovan, Raúl Esparza, Triney Sandoval, and Kyle Soller.
For revivals, “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” will compete against “West Side Story” in the musical category. For play revivals, the nominated works are “Fefu and Her Friends,” “for colored girls…,” Mac Beth,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” and “A Soldier’s Play.”
Finally, in the featured acting categories, notable noms across plays and musicals include Christian Borle, Lauren Patten, LaChanze, and 89-year-old Lois Smith.
As in years past, shows that had been previously eligible for prior Off-Broadway productions were not considered; this season that includes Jeremy O. Harris’ provocative “Slave Play,” and the Jake Gyllenhaal-Tom Sturridge starrer “Sea Wall/A Life.” And though the Drama Desks’ Broadway categories are traditionally seen as a harbinger for Tony nominations, the latter have been delayed indefinitely.
Voted on by the Drama Desk body—consisting of theater journalists, editors, publishers, and broadcasters—this year’s ceremony on May 31 was originally set to take place at the Town Hall, as it has the last several years. However, like so many entities, it will now be held on that same date virtually. Additional details will be revealed as the show nears, in accordance with unfolding pandemic guidelines. See the full list of 2020 nominations here.
And for an updated guide to industry awards shows that have been either postponed or cancelled in the face of COVID-19, follow along with Backstage here.
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