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Top 10 Drama Desk-Nominated Shows to See Now

Category General

|by David Sheward |

Award season is here

Theater award season is here in New York and one of the most prestigious accolade-dispensing groups – the Drama Desk – have announced their nominees. Unlike the Tonys, which only include Broadway in their honors, the DDs consider Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Another major difference between the two groups is that the Tonys are voted on mostly by industry insiders while the Desks are judged by theater reporters, editors and critics who have no stake in the outcome and should therefore be more objective. The Drama League also recently announced their nominations and they also include Broadway and Off-Broadway. The League has similar categories to the Tonys and DDs including Outstanding Play, Musical, Play Revival and Musical Revival. Where the DLs differ is they have a single category for Distinguished Performance with 55 nominees and only one winner. SpongeBob, Harry Potter, Angels in America, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical are among the Drama League nominees.

Amar Ramasar and the company of 'CAROUSEL' (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)

Amar Ramasar and the company of 'CAROUSEL' (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)

Here is a list of the top Drama Desk-nominated shows to see now:

Nominated for 12 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical Revival

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved 1945 classic returns in a glorious new production directed by multiple Tony and DD winner Jack O’Brien. Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys) star as Julie Jourdan and Billy Bigelow, whose ill-fated romance in 1890s New England teaches them that love can endure anything, even death. Opera star Renee Fleming is featured as Nettie, the strong-willed friend who encourages Julie with the anthem of hope “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” 

My Fair Lady
Nominated for five Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical Revival

The evergreen tuner from Lerner and Loewe, focusing on the battle of wills between arrogant linguist Henry Higgins and feisty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, is given a whole new spin by Tony winner Bartlett Sher for Lincoln Center Theater. British star Harry Hadden Patton and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) are the fighting leads with Allen Corduner, Norbert Leo Butz and Dame Diana Rigg. The gorgeous score includes such favorites as “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Once On This Island
Nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical Revival

Director Michael Arden has set this vibrant fairytale on a hurricane-struck island with the survivors acting out the moving tale of Ti Moune, the orphan girl seeking love from a rich boy and finding heartache. The costumes are made from cast-off material and the music is played on found instruments. Against this tragic backdrop, the magnificent company tells book-writer-lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty’s joyous story of survival and spirituality.

SpongeBob SquarePants
Nominated for 11 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical

Childlike glee and adult sophistication combine in this delightful stage version of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series. SpongeBob and his pals Patrick Starfish, Squidward Tentacles, Sandy Cheeks, Mr. Krabs and the whole gang scramble to save their beloved underwater burg Bikini Bottom from an imminently erupting volcano. There are laughs aplenty as well as songs from a host of pop icons including David Bowie, Aerosmith, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper and They Might Be Giants.

Mean Girls
Nominated for 10 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical

Tina Fey’s blisteringly funny cult film about high school hierarchy is an even more riotous Broadway musical. Naive teen Cady is looking for friends at her new school in a Chicago suburb after growing up on the African savannah with her naturalist parents. But when she tries to tame alpha predator and social arbiter Regina, the hunt is on. Fey adapted her screenplay and the clever songs are by her husband, composer Jeff Richmond, and lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde)

Nominated for Outstanding Revival of a Play and Actor in a Play

Tom Stoppard’s bracingly funny and intellectually challenging Tony-winning Best Play returns to Broadway in a hit London production. Elderly Henry Carr recalls his days of living in Zurich in 1917 when legendary author James Joyce, Communist revolutionary Lenin, and Dada artist Tristan Tzara where all in the Swiss city. This pastiche of politics, art, history and war is seen through the lens of a production of Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest in which Henry acted.

Angels in America
Nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Play
Tony Kushner’s epic drama on America during the AIDS crisis wings its way back to Broadway via London in a critically acclaimed National Theatre revival helmed for two-time Tony winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse, The Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). Andrew Garfield as the reluctant prophet Pryor Walter and Nathan Lane as the closeted gay power-broker Roy Cohn head a magnificent cast in this two-part examination of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Nominated for 8 Drama Desk Awards
JK Rowlings’ boy wizard is estimated to have sold over 130 million books in the U.S. alone and the films have netted an estimated $7.7 billion. So it was only a matter of time before Harry and his pals flew from Hogwarts to Broadway. After a triumphant London run, this two-part continuation of the series opened in New York to raves. Harry is now grown up and his son is experiencing similar adjustment issues during his years at his magical alma mater. The Lyric Theater comes alive with magical effects in this spectacular fantasy.

Three Tall Women
Nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play Revival
Two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson (Women in Love, A Touch of Class) returns to Broadway after a 30-year absence in a powerful revival of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning play on the effects of age, love and life on a domineering woman not unlike the playwright’s mother. In a fascinating coup de theatre, the character splits into three and we see her at three different ages simultaneously. Joining Jackson are Tony and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (A Doll’s House, Part 2, Roseanne) and Alison Pill (The Lieutenant of Inshore). 

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Like Albee’s Three Tall Women, Disco Diva Donna Summer is portrayed by three different actresses at different stages in her life in this new bio-musical. Tony winner LaChanze (The Color Purple) is nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical as Diva Donna. Director Des MacAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo who collaborated on Jersey Boys, reunite for this celebration of such hits as “Bad Girls,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Dim All the Lights,” “MacArthur Park,” “On the Radio” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).”

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