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.
"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
"reasons to be pretty"
"9 to 5"
"Liza's at the Palace"
"The Story of My Life"
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
"Exit the King"
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Norman Conquests"
"Waiting for Godot"
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
"Enter Laughing "
"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"