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'Ruined,' 'Fela!' Win at Lortel Awards

'Ruined,' 'Fela!' Win at Lortel Awards
Two productions about African subjects dominated the 24th annual Lucille Lortel Awards, presented May 3 at the Marriot Marquis in a ceremony hosted by Kristin Johnston. Ruined, Lynn Nottage's searing play about a group of women surviving a civil war in the Congo, continued its winning ways by taking home the Lortel award for outstanding play. Saidah Arrika Ekulona, who plays Mama Nadi, the pragmatic owner of a bar-brothel in the play, won the outstanding leading actress award.

Ruined has already won the Pulitzer Prize and has been nominated for outstanding play by both the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle. The play has extended its run at Manhattan Theatre Club through June 28.

Fela!, the musical biography of Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, won for outstanding musical, choreography and costume design. The show, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, had a limited run last September at 37 Arts. There is a workshop project planned to further develop the show running June 15–July 3, with a possible Broadway production to follow in the fall of 2009.

The Lortels honor exclusively Off-Broadway productions. A complete list of winners and nominees follows. (Winners are listed in bold face.)

Outstanding Play:
** Ruined; Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre, Producer; Lynn Nottage, Playwright
Animals Out of Paper; Second Stage Theatre, Producer; Rajiv Joseph, Playwright
Becky Shaw; Second Stage Theatre, Producer; Gina Gionfriddo, Playwright
The Good Negro; The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center, Producers; Tracey Scott Wilson, Playwright
The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928); New York Theatre Workshop and Elevator Repair Service, Producers; Text by William Faulkner, Created by Elevator Repair Service
Outstanding Musical:
** Fela! A New Musical; Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay, Producers; Book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, Music and Lyrics by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Add'l Music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, Add'l Lyrics by Jim Lewis.
My Vaudeville Man!; The York Theatre Company and Melanie Herman, Producers; Book by Jeff Hochhauser, Music by Bob Johnston, Lyrics by Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser
Road Show; The Public Theater, Producer; Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman
Saved; Playwrights Horizons in association with Elephant Eye Theatrical, Producers; Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey and Rinne Groff
This Beautiful City; Vineyard Theatre, Producer; Composer and Lyricist Michael Friedman, Librettist Steve Cosson and Jim Lewis, Created by The Civilians
Outstanding Solo Show:
** Humor Abuse; Manhattan Theatre Club, Producer; Created by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt, Performed by Lorenzo Pisoni
Sleepwalk With Me; Eli Gonda, Ryan Scott Warren, Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, and Nathan Lane, Producers; Written and Performed by Mike Birbiglia
Outstanding Revival:
** Our Town; Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian, Tom Wirtshafter, Ted Snowdon, Eagle Productions, Dena Hammerstein/Pam Pariseau, The Weinstein Company, Burnt Umber Productions, Producers; Thornton Wilder, Playwright
Enter Laughing, The Musical; The York Theatre Company, Producer; Book by Joseph Stein, Music and Lyrics by Stan Daniels, Based on the play Enter Laughing by Joseph Stein, from the novel by Carl Reiner.
Othello; Theatre for a New Audience, Producer; William Shakespeare, Playwright
The Cripple of Inishmaan; Atlantic Theater Company and Druid Theatre Company, Producers; Martin McDonagh, Playwright
The Glass Cage; Mint Theater Company, Producer; J.B. Priestley, Playwright
Outstanding Director:
** David Cromer, Our Town
Arin Arbus, Othello
Garry Hynes, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kate Whoriskey, Ruined
Robert Woodruff, Chair

Outstanding Choreographer:
** Bill T. Jones, Fela! A New Musical
Martha Clarke, Garden of Earthly Delights
Janet Miller, The Marvelous Wonderettes
Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Shonn Wiley, My Vaudeville Man!
Sergio Trujillo, Saved

Outstanding Lead Actor:
** John Douglas Thompson, Othello
Ned Eisenberg, Othello
Josh Grisetti, Enter Laughing, The Musical
Brian d'Arcy James, Port Authority
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela! A New Musical

Outstanding Lead Actress:
** Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Ruined
Ellen Burstyn, The Little Flower of East Orange
Carmen M. Herlihy, crooked
Kellie Overbey, The Savannah Disputation
Annie Parisse, Becky Shaw

Outstanding Featured Actor:
** Aaron Monaghan, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Utkarsh Ambudkar, Animals Out of Paper
Francois Battiste, The Good Negro
John McMartin, Saturn Returns
Thomas Sadoski, Becky Shaw

Outstanding Featured Actress:
** Kerry Condon, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Annika Boras, Chair
Lisa Emery, Distracted
Mamie Gummer, Uncle Vanya
Juliet Rylance, Othello

Outstanding Scenic Design:
** Roger Hanna, The Glass Cage
Beowulf Boritt, Animals Out of Paper
Marina Draghici, Fela! A New Musical
James Schuette, Wig Out!
David Zinn, Chair

Outstanding Costume Design:
** Marina Draghici, Fela! A New Musical
Ann Hould-Ward, Road Show
Toni-Leslie James, Wig Out!
Karen Perry, The First Breeze of Summer
Theresa Squire, Rafta, Rafta...

Outstanding Lighting Design:
** Christopher Akerlind, Garden of Earthly Delights
Mark Barton, Chair
Lap Chi Chu, The Good Negro
Marcus Doshi, Othello
Jason Lyons, Mourning Becomes Electra

Outstanding Sound Design:
** John Gromada, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
Quentin Chiappetta, Irena's Vow
Robert Kaplowitz, Wig Out!
Jane Shaw, The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd
Matt Tierney, The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928)

Special Awards:
Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence:
Ira Weitzman

Outstanding Body of Work:
The Lark Play Development Center

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