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Category: Lucille Lortel Awards

Lucille Lortel Awards honor best of off-Broadway

May 3, 2010 |  9:24 am

Lortel_Awards_logo "When the Rain Stops Falling," a time-shifting tale of four generations by the Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, won five of its six Lucille Lortel bids -- director (David Cromer), featured actress (Mary Beth Hurt), set, lighting and sound design -- losing only the best play race to the late Horton Foote's epic "The Orphans' Home Cycle."

The Signature Theatre production of Foote's three-part, nine-hour ode to his small Texas town also won with the New York Drama Critics Circle on Friday. A Broadway transfer is being bandied about and should this happen, Foote could well win the Tony Award that eluded him in his lifetime.

Composing team John Kander and the late Fred Ebb won three Tonys over the years for their scores ("Cabaret," 1967; "Woman of the Year," 1981; "Kiss of the Spider Woman," 1993). One of their last collaborations -- "The Scottsboro Boys" -- won best musical at the Lortels as well as the choreography award for director Susan Stroman. This tuner about a notorious case of racial injustice could also be coming to Broadway next season.

Held at Terminal 5 on the west side of Manhattan, Sunday's festivities were a tribute to the first 25 years of these kudos and did double duty as a benefit for the Actors' Fund charity. Two-time Tony champ Bebe Neuwirth ("Sweet Charity," "Chicago") and "Mad Men" star Bryan Batt hosted, moving the show along nicely. A bevy of bold-faced names with roots in the theater -- including Justin Bartha, Hugh Dancy, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Anthony LaPaglia, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, Stephanie March, Laurie Metcalf, Jennifer Morrison and Kerry Washington -- handled the presentation of the prizes.

Both nominees and winners were determined by a jury of 19 -- comprised of representatives from the off-Broadway League, Actor's Equity, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and the Lucille Lortel Foundation as well as theater journalists and academics -- who attended 79 eligible shows.

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Lucille Lortels are off-Broadway's version of Tony Awards

April 30, 2010 | 10:48 am

Lortel_Awards_logo The Lucille Lortel Awards celebrate a silver anniversary Sunday night. These kudos are presented by the Off-Broadway League, a collection of producers who stage shows in smaller venues than those on Broadway. A successful off-Broadway run can lead to a transfer to Broadway and a chance to contend at the Tony Awards.

Last year, the musical "Next to Normal" -- which had premiered at the off-Broadway venue Second Stage in 2008 -- was a last-minute entry into the derby. This tuner about a woman coping with mental illness contended for 11 Tony Awards, winning three: lead actress Alice Ripley, score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and orchestrations. Last month it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

This year, among the possible contenders for the Tony Awards is another tuner from Second Stage -- "Everyday Rapture" -- which is nominated for both best musical and lead actress (Sherie Renee Scott) at the Lucille Lortels. Also new to Broadway this season is "Fela," which won three of its five bids at last year's Lortels, including best musical. The full list of nominees can be found on the Lucille Lortel Awards website.

The Lucille Lortel Awards -- named for the renowned actress turned producer -- do what the Drama Desk Awards used to -- celebrate the best of off-Broadway. While the Tony Awards, which date to 1947, salute Broadway, the Drama Desk kudos were begun in 1955 to honor the rest of the New York theater world. And for the first 14 years they did just that with winners coming exclusively from the burgeoning off-Broadway scene. However, beginning with the 15th festivities in 1968, those appearing on Broadway became eligible for consideration and since then these awards have tilted towards those also competing at the Tonys, leaving the off-Broadway performers in the wings.

This year's nominations for the Drama Desk Awards will be announced Monday and may well include many of the Lucille Lortel contenders. However, if the past is any indication, most of them needn't bother showing up at the May 23 ceremony. Indeed, in the last six years only 10 of the 153 Drama Desk Awards bestowed for plays and musicals have gone to off-Broadway productions.

Photo: Lucille Lortel Awards logo. Credit: Lucille Lortel Foundation

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Gold Derby nuggets: Charlie Sheen exiting 'Two and a Half Men'? | Lucille Lortel nominations | Busy Betty White

April 1, 2010 |  5:58 pm

Charlie SheenCharlie Sheen could be leaving his hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" at the end of this seventh season. Sheen -- who has had his share of personal woes over the course of the series -- faces charges for a domestic dispute at Christmas and is currently in rehab. The actor has picked up four consecutive Emmy nods for his work on the CBS Monday night staple and makes a reported $850,000 per episode. Whether this is just posturing for an even better payday remains to be seen. PEOPLE

• While we will have to wait and see if Sheen does not return to his show, S. Epatha Merkerson definitely won't be reporting for duty if "Law & Order" is renewed by NBC for next season. She tells Mike Ausiello that after 16 years, "It’s time to move on. I’m doing other things and this will be a great way to leave what has been an extraordinary gig." Merkerson delivered one of the all-time great acceptance speeches when she won an Emmy in 2005 for her lead performance in the telefilm "Lackawanna Blues" and her notes disappeared down her decolletage. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Mike Fleming delivers the news that the three amigos at the center of all the fun -- Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms -- finally have signed  for the sequel to "The Hangover." The surprise winner of the Golden Globe for best comedy/musical of the year is the top-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. The trio are looking at $5-million-plus payouts each, while director Todd Phillips will make at least $10 million on the picture. DEADLINE

• LAT theater critic Charles McNulty extols the efforts of Valerie Harper to use new media like Facebook and Twitter to draw people to the old medium of live theater. The four-time Emmy champ is appearing on Broadway as the theatrical diva Talullah Bankhead in the new play "Looped." CULTURE MONSTER

Lortel_Awards_logo • While Harper could contend for a Tony as her show runs on Broadway, the off-Broadway community rewards its top productions with the Lucille Lortel awards. Nominations for the silver anniversary of these kudos were announced Thursday. The plays "The Glass Menagerie," "Pride" and "When the Rain Stops Falling" lead with six apiece. Among the performers contending are Oscar-winning songwriter Keith Carradine ("Nashville") and three-time Emmy champ Laurie Metcalf for their featured work in "A Lie of the Mind." Winners will be announced May 2, two days before Harper finds out if she is a Tony nominee. PLAYBILL

• Two-time Tony champ Nathan Lane, director Kenny Leon and Macy's Thanksgiving parade will be honored at the 2010 Drama League luncheon on May 21 in Gotham. PLAYBILL

• Oscar winner Anna Paquin declared herself to be bisexual in a PSA for the Give a Damn campaign, which promotes gay and lesbian equality. Paquin, who picked up a Golden Globe for the first season of "True Blood," is engaged to her on-screen paramour, Stephen Moyer.

• Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson has a new gig as the spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. The "Dreamgirl" star gave birth seven months ago and credits the program with helping her shed the baby weight. She will be appearing in TV spots and print ads. On "Good Morning America" on Thursday, Hudson said, "No one recognizes me anymore. I wanted to go in a different direction and find a better lifestyle." E ONLINE

Betty WhiteBetty White is busier than ever. When not appearing in TV series, like the upcoming finale of freshman hit "The Middle," or preparing her own TV Land sitcom this summer -- "Hot in Cleveland" -- the five-time Emmy champ is picking up lifetime achievement awards. Last summer the TV critics honored her, in January SAG sang her praises and on April 14 she will be feted by the American Women in Radio & Television. Says Jay Leno, who will present her this latest prize, "This Golden Girl has won my heart and the hearts of many fans from around the world."

• Advertisers will pay a premium for a spot on the series finale of "24." Prior to the announcement that the 2006 Emmy winner for best drama series was signing off after eight event-filled years, Fox had been looking for a cool half-million per ad for the May 24 two-hour closer. That rate has jumped to $650,000, and there may be little inventory left already. AD AGE

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Top photo: Charlie Sheen in "Two and a Half Men." Credit: CBS.

Middle photo: Lucille Lortel award logo. Credit: Lucille Lortel Foundation.

Bottom photo: Betty White at the SAG Awards. Credit: TNT

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'Spring Awakening' leads Lortel noms; Tonys sweep next?

April 3, 2007 |  8:41 am

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While Broadway has the Tonys to honor excellence in the theater, the best of Off Broadway is celebrated with the Lucille Lortels. Nominations for the 22nd annual awardsfest were announced Monday and tuner "Spring Awakening," a recent transfer to Broadway, leads with 6 nods, including best musical, while Brit playwright David Hare's political drama "Stuff Happens" earned 5, including best play, actor and actress. Oscar winner Kevin Kline, currently playing "King Lear" to mixed reviews, is to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award during the May 7 festivities at New World Stage, a converted movieplex, in the heart of the Theater District.

Among the notable names nominated are Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman for his work in "Jack Goes Boating," the latest downbeat drama from his LAByrinth Theater Company, Emmy winner Patricia Heaton for the seriocomic "The Scene," Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh, a last minute replacement for Christine Lahti, in "The Busy World Is Hushed," and Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep and Donald Gummer, for "The Water's Edge," a modernday "Medea."

With the flow from Off Broadway to Broadway slowing down in recent times as economic realities resulted in the need for the familiar, be it musicals adapted from hit movies or plays with movie stars, "Spring Awakening," a tuner with no big names, is a rarity. This little show that could, about teenagers at the turn of the last century coming to terms with their sexuality, started at a non-profit theater, as did 2003 Lortel winner "Avenue Q," which went on to win the Tony for best musical beating out the big budget "Wicked."

For a full list of nominees CLICK HERE

Photo: "Spring Awakening" stars John Gallagher, Jr., Jonathan Groff, and Lea Michele may not have made the cut at the Lucille Lortel Awards (no musical actors were cited) but look for them to be Tony bound when those nominations are announced on May 15. (Eugene O'Neill Theater)


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