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As usual, non-Broadway shows get stomped at the Drama Desk Awards

May 17, 2009 | 11:27 pm

The Drama Desk Awards were bestowed, as usual, to Broadway shows over off-Broadway alternatives. "Billy Elliot" danced off with 11 prizes, including best musical.

The only major upset occurred in the race for best actress in a play with Janet McTeer ("Mary Stuart") prevailing over two stars considered to be the front-runners at the upcoming Tony Awards: Marcia Gay Harden ("God of Carnage") and Jane Fonda ("33 Variations").

Otherwise, Tony faves prevailed, including Geoffrey Rush ("Exit the King") as best actor, Angela Lansbury ("Blithe Spirit") in the supporting race and "Hair" and "The Norman Conquests" as best revivals.

Drama Desk Awards winners 78319284 news

"Shrek" star Brian d'Arcy James triumphed in the race for best musical actor without facing the triple threat awaiting him at the Tonys: the three lead stars of "Billy Elliot," who share one nomination. They were snubbed by Drama Desk voters when "Billy Elliot" producers refused to give members of the nominating committee tickets to see all three boys perform on different nights.

As usual, the ongoing unfairness of the Drama Desk Awards is painfully apparent in the results. Even though the small group of members who belong to the nominating committee give bids to many worthy non-Broadway productions, those contenders lose after not being seen by the vast majority of members who vote for the Broadway shows they bother to attend.

When non-Broadway nominees do win, they tend to have prestigious reputations, as is the case of the winner of best play: "Ruined," which recently won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Among the few other non-Broadway winners was "Road Show," which won best lyrics for New York theater legend Stephen Sondheim.

There are two obvious solutions to this problem. Either the Drama Desk should create separate categories for Broadway and non-Broadway productions or else permit members to vote only for productions they've seen, but the group's leadership stubbornly resists making such a change that could help to boost the award's sagging reputation.

The Drama Desk Awards are bestowed by a secret group of journalists who are widely accused of having dubious credentials. That accusation can't be addressed because it's the only media award that refuses to list its members at its website.

Bold = winner

BEST PLAY
"Body Awareness"
"Becky Shaw"
"reasons to be pretty"
"Ruined"
"Fifty Words"
"Lady"

BEST MUSICAL
"9 to 5"
"Billy Elliot"
"Fela!"
"Liza's at the Palace"
"Shrek"
"The Story of My Life"

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
"Blithe Spirit"
"Exit the King"
"Mary Stuart"
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Norman Conquests"
"Waiting for Godot"

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
"Enter Laughing "
"Hair"
"Pal Joey"
"West Side Story"

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Simon Russell Beale, "The Winter's Tale"
Reed Birney, "Blasted"
Raúl Esparza, "Speed-The-Plow"
Bill Irwin, "Waiting for Godot"
Daniel Radcliffe, "Equus"
Geoffrey Rush, "Exit the King"
Thomas Sadoski, "reasons to be pretty"

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Saidah Arrika Ekulona, "Ruined"
Jane Fonda, "33 Variations"
Marcia Gay Harden, "God of Carnage"
Elizabeth Marvel, "Fifty Words"
Jan Maxwell, "Scenes From an Execution"
Janet McTeer, "Mary Stuart"

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
James Barbour, "A Tale of Two Cities"
Daniel Breaker, "Shrek"
Brian d'Arcy James, "Shrek"
Josh Grisetti, "Enter Laughing"
Sahr Ngaujah, "Fela!"
Will Swenson, "Hair"

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Stephanie J. Block, "9 to 5"
Stockard Channing, "Pal Joey"
Sutton Foster, "Shrek"
Megan Hilty, "9 to 5"
Allison Janney, "9 to 5"
Karen Murphy, "My Vaudeville Man!"

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Brian d'Arcy James, "Port Authority"
Jeremy Davidson, "Back Back Back"
Peter Friedman, "Body Awareness"
Ethan Hawke, "The Winter's Tale"
Pablo Schreiber, "reasons to be pretty" (off-Broadway)
Jeremy Shamos, "Animals Out of Paper"

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Rebecca Hall, "The Cherry Orchard"
Zoe Kazan, "The Seagull"
Angela Lansbury, "Blithe Spirit"
Andrea Martin, "Exit the King"
Carey Mulligan, "The Seagull"
Condola Rashad, "Ruined"

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Hunter Foster, "Happiness"
Demond Green, "The Toxic Avenger"
Gregory Jbara, "Billy Elliot"
Marc Kudisch, "9 to 5"
Bryce Ryness, "Hair"
Christopher Sieber, "Shrek"

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Farah Alvin, "The Marvelous Wonderettes"
Christina Bianco, "Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab"
Haydn Gwynne, "Billy Elliot"
Karen Olivo, "West Side Story"
Nancy Opel, "The Toxic Avenger"
Martha Plimpton, "Pal Joey"

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Sarah Benson, "Blasted"
Michael Blakemore, "Blithe Spirit"
Garry Hynes, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Terry Kinney, "reasons to be pretty"
Matthew Warchus, "The Norman Conquests"
Kate Whoriskey, "Ruined"

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Walter Bobbie, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Stephen Daldry, "Billy Elliot"
Joe Mantello, "9 to 5"
Jason Moore, "Shrek"
Diane Paulus, "Hair"
Stuart Ross, "Enter Laughing"

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Karole Armitage, "Hair"
Andy Blankenbuehler, "9 to 5"
Peter Darling, "Billy Elliot"
Bill T. Jones, "Fela!"
Randy Skinner, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Shonn Wiley, "My Vaudeville Man!"

BEST MUSIC
Neil Bartram, "The Story of My Life"
Zina Goldrich, "Dear Edwina"
Elton John, "Billy Elliot"
Dolly Parton, "9 to 5"
Stephen Sondheim, "Road Show"
Jeanine Tesori, "Shrek"

BEST LYRICS
Neil Bartram, "The Story of My Life"
Jason Robert Brown, "13"
Marcy Heisler, "Dear Edwina"
David Lindsay-Abaire, "Shrek"
Dolly Parton, "9 to 5"
Stephen Sondheim, "Road Show"

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis, "This Beautiful City"
Joe DiPietro, "The Toxic Avenger"
Lee Hall, "Billy Elliot"
Brian Hill, "The Story of My Life"
David Lindsay-Abaire, "Shrek"
Patricia Resnick, "9 to 5"

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS
Larry Blank, "White Christmas"
Bruce Coughlin, "9 to 5"
Aaron Johnson and Antibalas, "Fela!"
Edward B. Kessel, "A Tale of Two Cities"
Martin Koch, "Billy Elliot"
Danny Troob, "Shrek"

BEST MUSIC IN A PLAY
Mark Bennett, "The Cherry Orchard"
Mark Bennett, "The Winter's Tale"
Dominic Kanza, "Ruined"
DJ Rekha, "Rafta, "Rafta…"
Richard Woodbury, "Desire Under the Elms"
Gary Yershon, "The Norman Conquests"

BEST SET DESIGN OF A PLAY"
Dale Ferguson, "Exit the King"
Rob Howell, "The Norman Conquests"
David Korins, "Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them"
Derek McLane, "33 Variations"
Neil Patel, "Fifty Words"
Walt Spangler, "Desire Under the Elms"

BEST SET DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, "Shrek"
Anna Louizos, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Thomas Lynch, "Happiness"
Scott Pask, "9 to 5"
Scott Pask, "Hair"
Basil Twist, "Arias With a Twist"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Tim Hatley, "Shrek"
Rob Howell, "The Norman Conquests"
William Ivey Long, "9 to 5"
Michael McDonald, "Hair"
Martin Pakledinaz, "Blithe Spirit"
Carrie Robbins, "White Christmas"

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A PLAY
Marcus Doshi, "Hamlet (Theatre for a New Audience)"
David Hersey, "Equus"
Ben Kato, "Washing Machine"
R. Lee Kennedy, "Bury the Dead"
Paul Pyant, "The Winter's Tale"
Hugh Vanstone, "Mary Stuart"

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A MUSICAL
Kevin Adams, "Hair"
Jules Fisher and Kenneth Posner, "9 to 5"
Rick Fisher, "Billy Elliot"
Jason Lyons, "Clay"
Sinéad McKenna, "Improbable Frequency"
Richard Pilbrow, "A Tale of Two Cities"

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Acme Sound Partners, "White Christmas"
Paul Arditti, "Billy Elliot"
Gregory Clarke, "Equus"
John Gromada, "Shipwrecked!"
André J. Pluess, "33 Variations"
John H. Shivers, "9 to 5"

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE
Mike Birbiglia, "Sleepwalk With Me"
Frank Blocker, "Southern Gothic Novel"
Michael Laurence, "Krapp, "39"
Lorenzo Pisoni, "Humor Abuse"
Matt Sax, "Clay"
Campbell Scott, "The Atheist"

UNIQUE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE
"Absinthe (2008 Edition)"
"Arias With a Twist"
"Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words"
"Désir"
"Soul of Shaolin"
"Surrender"

RELATED POSTS

Should the Drama Desk revamp its awards?

'9 to 5,' 'Shrek' and 'Billy Elliot' lead Drama Desk Awards nominations

Neil Patrick Harris to host Tony Awards

'Billy Elliot' and 'God of Carnage' lead Tony Award nominations

Talking Tonys: Who bestows Broadway's top award?

Tony Awards prediction: Smelly green ogre Shrek will crush the 'Billy Elliot' boys

'Billy Elliot' boys are the fifth team to compete for a single Tonys nom

Angela Lansbury will probably tie Tonys record

Jane Fonda dishes Tonys, '33 Variations,' Oscars, Katharine Hepburn, her dad and a lost cigarette lighter

Photos: Marquis Theatre

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