Theater Award Season Begins. The Week in NY Theater

Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel, both making their Broadway playwriting debuts this season, with “Sweat” and “Indecent” respectively, are both former winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama (“Ruined”  in 2009 and “How I Learned to Drive” in 1998.) Nottage won again.

The Pulitzer Prize announcement moves us even further into a theater awards season that began last week with the announcement of nominations for Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway. Those awards will be presented May 7.

Other New York theater awards coming soon:
Outer Critics Circle – Nominations announced April 25; awards ceremony May 25
Drama Desk – Nominations announced April 27; awards June 4
Obie Awards  – May 22
Tony Awards – Nominations announced May 2; awards June 11

(Here’s my guide to the major New York theater awards from 2016. Expect the 2017 guide soon.)

Meanwhile, this past week, there were the UK’s Olivier Awards (list of winners)

American winners of 2017 Olivier Awards: Andy Karl (best actor in a musical for Groundhog Day) and Amber Riley (best actress in a musical for Dreamgirls.) Groundhog Day, which won best musical, is opening on Broadway April 17.


Scene from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theater in London.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” won nine Olivier Awards, breaking the records set by Matilda and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, both of which then went on to Tony-winning runs on Broadway – where Harry Potter is expected to land in the Spring of 2018.

And ATCA, the American Theatre Critics Association, announced two awards for plays produced anywhere in the U.S. except NYC, which this year meant mostly Chicago. Michael Cristofer’s “Man in the Ring,” which premiered at the Court Theatre in Chicag,o won the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and $25,000. Tracy Letts’ “Mary Page Marlowe” and David Rabe’s “Visiting Edna,” both of which premiered at Steppenwolf in Chicago, were awarded $7,500 and given citations. (Michael Cristofer and Tracy Letts are previous winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, incidentally, Cristofer for The Shadow Box in 1977, Letts for August: Osage County in 2008.)

Nate Eppler’s “The Ice Treatment” won the 2017 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. “The Ice Treatment” premiered in Nashville.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Cobie Smulders and Kevin Kline

Present Laughter

After a decade’s absence from Broadway, Kevin Kline returns as the aging matinee idol in Present Laughter. Kline, the swashbuckler of Pirates of Penzance and the hunk of On The Twentieth Century, would be welcome back in almost any theatrical vehicle. Yet this sixth Broadway production of Noel Coward’s 1939 comedy doesn’t add up to any special kind of thrill ride


Judging from the last few minutes of “Amélie,” when the two adorable eccentrics Amélie and Nino finally kiss, the new musical feels like a charming and almost traditional romantic comedy, especially since the leads are portrayed by two of Broadway’s most appealing and talented young stars, both of whom have names that it takes practice to spell correctly — Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat.

But the first 90 minutes or so of “Amélie,” an adaptation of the 2001 French movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, are a full-out exercise in whimsy…. The musicalized vignettes are often presented like children’s theater run amok.

War Paint roundup

Come From Away – second look

I consider my own and other reactions to this hit “9/11 musical,”  which have as much to do with what’s happening in the world as on stage.

The Week in New York Theater News

Ayad Akhtar

American Academy of Arts and Letters announced literature awards to 19 writers, including  playwrights Lynn Nottage, Ayad Akhtar (both of whom have previously won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and Dominique Morisseau. Nottage’s Award of Merit Medal comes with a cash prize of $25,000. The others get $10,000 apiece.


James Monroe Iglehart begin performances as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton” on April 14, the same day Brian d’Arcy James begins as King George.

Check out some of the other new cast members in Hamilton

Then She Fell: Rachel I. Berman (as Alice)

Third Rail Projects, the company heralded for its immersive theater Then She Fell (pictured above) and The Grand Paradise, will present Ghost Light, at The Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center, opening June 19. Ghost Light will be “a performance about performance that invites audiences to follow performers into the unseen corners of the Claire Tow Theater and through a series of real and dreamlike landscapes beyond the footlights, the glitter and the greasepaint.”

“Significant Other” is now closing April 23, after just 79 performances.



“Building the Wall,” fiery anti-Trump play by Robert Schenkkan  (All The Way,Hacksaw Ridge,), performs at New World Stages May 12-July 19. Schenkkan, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Kentucky Cycle” in 1992, told the Times about his new play:

“I wrote this in a white-hot fury. We no longer live in a world that is business as usual
— Trump has made that very clear —and if theater is going to remain relevant,
we must become faster to respond. We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact. It is not a crazy or extreme fantasy. It’s very solidly grounded in current American law, and Trump’s rhetoric, and his most recent executive orders.”

Cooling down – how actors unwind  after intense performances


RIP Gary Austin, 75, founder of the influential The Groundlings improv group

“My aim is to be totally present in the moment, and when I’m totally present in the moment I can do no wrong,”

RIP Tim Pigott-Smith, 70, who made a splash on Broadway as the title character in King Charles III

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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