The Drama League has bestowed its prestigious performance prize on Tony nominee Alfred Molina for his portrayal of the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko in "Red." This transfer from London's Donmar Warehouse also won the best play award for John Logan. "Red" is in contention at the Tony Awards as is one of the other eight plays which vied for the league honor -- "Next Fall."
As with the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk, the league does not distinguish between Broadway and off-Broadway when doling out honors. However, while many of the nominated plays, musicals revivals and performers hailed from beyond the bright lights of Broadway, all the winners were from the rialto.
The musical revue "Sondheim on Sondheim" won with the league but was snubbed by the Tonys. Of the other eight league nominees, three of them are in the running for the top Tony -- "American Idiot," "Memphis" and "Million Dollar Quartet." The fourth Tony nominee -- "Fela!" -- was eligible for the league prize last year when it ran off-Broadway.
The league rewarded revivals of the play "A View From the Bridge" and the tuner "La Cage aux Folles" as well. Both of these productions are front-runners in the same races at the Tony Awards. These categories at the league included all of the Tony nominees with the exception of "The Royal Family."
The league is unique among the theater kudos in that it hands out only one award for distinguished performance and an individual can be so recognized only once in their career. Last year, Geoffrey Rush won this honor several weeks before taking the Tony for his performance in "Exit the King."
This year, 57 actors competed for the prize first given to Katharine Cornell in 1935. They ranged from A (Nina Arianda,"Venus in Fur") to Z (Catherine Zeta-Jones, "A Little Night Music"). Two of the other nominees -- "Ugly Betty" co-stars Michael Urie ("The Temperamentals") and Vanessa Williams ("Sondheim on Sondheim") -- hosted the awards at the Marriott Marquis.
For the full roster of nominees, visit the Drama League website.
Photo: Alfred Molina in "Red." Credit: John Golden Theatre