Patti LuPone Hosts Sunday's Drama Desk Awards; A Starry, Starry Season; Tovah Feldshuh, Sherman Brothers Honored; Broadway By the Year Season Finale
by Ellis Nassour

    Tony and Drama Desk multiple award winner Patti LuPone, hosts the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards on Sunday at 9 P.M. in the concert hall of the LaGuadia High School for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.


    LuPone follows in a glittering line-up of DD Awards hosts: Bernadette Peters, Bebe Neuwirth, Lily Tomlin, Rue McClanahan, Chita Rivera, Harvey Fierstein [the host with the most: four times], Kristin Chenoweth, and the cast of [title of show].

    LuPone received the Best/Outstanding Actress, Musical, Tony and DD Awards for the Gypsy revival, which she originated at City Center Encores! and Chicago's Ravina Festival.

    She was also the recipient of the Best/Outstanding Actress, Musical, Tony and DD for her title role Rice/Lloyd Webber's Evita; Tony and DD Actress, Musical, noms for the Sweeney Todd revival; Tony and DD Actress, Musical, noms for LCT and Porter's Anything Goes; Tony and DD Featured Actress, Musical, noms for Uhry/Waldman's Robber Bridegroom, based upon the Eudora Welty novella; and a DD, Featured Actress, Play, nom for Mamet's The Old Neighborhood.

    In addition, LuPone was honored with a Drama League Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre; an OCC Award for her one-woman show, Patti LuPone on Broadway; and Olivier Best Actress, Musical, Awards for her West End performances in Les Miz and The Cradle Will Rock. She also famously created the role of Norma Desmond in the 1993 West End world premiere production of Sunset Boulevard , for which she won an Olivier Best Actress, Musical, nom.


    LuPone made her auspicious Bway debut in 1973, in repertory revivals of Three Sisters and The Beggar's Opera , cast by John Houseman, then A.D. of the City Center Acting Company, in residence at the Billy Rose Theatre, now the Nederlander.

    Drama Desk Outstanding Ensemble Awards have gone to the casts of Circle Mirror Transformation [Reed Birney, Tracee Chimo, Peter Friedman, Deirdre O'Connell, Heidi Schreck] and The Temperamentals [Arnie Burton, Thomas Jay Ryan, Matthew Schneck, Michael Urie, Sam Breslin Wright].


    Special awards will be given to composer/lyricist Jerry Herman in honor of more than 50 years of "dazzling and enchanting" musicals [to be presented by Angela Lansbury]; the cast, creative team and producers of Horton Foote's epic The Orphan's Home Cycle; Godlight Theatre Company; and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

    Presenters include Edward Albee, Corbin Bleu, Michael Cerveris, Boyd Gaines, Ana Gasteyer, Mitzi Gaynor, Adriane Lenox, Leslie Jordan, Jesse L. Martin, Matthew Modine, Rosie Perez, Martha Plimpton, and Brooke Shields.

    Nomination Highlights:

    Outstanding Play

    Alan Ayckbourn, My Wonderful Day
    Annie Baker, Circle Mirror Transformation
    Lucinda Coxon, Happy Now?
    John Logan, Red
    Geoffrey Nauffts, Next Fall
    Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park


    Outstanding Musical
    American Idiot
    Everyday Rapture
    The Addams Family
    The Scottsboro Boys

    Outstanding Revival, Play
    The Boys in the Band
    Brighton Beach Memoirs
    So Help Me God!
    A View from the Bridge

    Outstanding Revival, Musical
    Finian's Rainbow
    La Cage Aux Folles
    A Little Night Music
    Promises, Promises

    Outstanding Actor, Play
    Bill Heck, The Orphans' Home Cycle
    Jude Law, HamletAlfred Molina, Red
    Eddie Redmayne, Red
    Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge
    John Douglas Thompson, The Emperor Jones
    Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane


    Why second guess the nominating committee and their use of the weighted ballot? However, could that be the culprit responsible for Hugh Dancy, The Pride, and Denzel Washington, Fences's absence?

    Outstanding Actress, Play
    Ayesha Antoine, My Wonderful Day
    Melissa Errico, Candida
    Anne Hathaway, Twelfth Night
    Kristen Johnston, So Help Me God!
    Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
    Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family

    Outstanding Actor, Musical
    Brandon Victor Dixon, The Scottsboro Boys
    Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles
    Cheyenne Jackson, Finian's Rainbow
    Chad Kimball, Memphis
    Nathan Lane, The Addams Family
    Bobby Steggert, Yank!

    ... And why neither Kelsey Grammar, La Cage or Benjamin Walker, Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson made the cut? If you're wondering why Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!, isn't in the category, he was nominated last season during the show's Off Bway run.


    Outstanding Actress, Musical
    Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow
    Montego Glover, Memphis
    Jayne Houdyshell, Coraline
    Christiane Noll, Ragtime
    Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
    Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

    Outstanding Featured Actor, Play
    Chris Chalk, Fences
    Sean Dugan, Next Fall
    Santino Fontana, Brighton Beach Memoirs
    Adam James, The Pride
    Hamish Linklater, Twelfth Night
    Nick Westrate, The Boys in the Band

    A surprising ommission is Ben Whishaw, The Pride.

    Outstanding Featured Actress, Play
    Victoria Clark, When the Rain Stops Falling
    Viola Davis, Fences
    Xanthe Elbrick, Candida
    Mary Beth Hurt, When the Rain Stops Falling
    Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
    Andrea Riseborough, The Pride

    Could that ballot be why Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family, is absent from the category?

    Outstanding Featured Actor, Musical
    Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
    Robin De Jesus, La Cage Aux Folles
    Jeffry Denman, Yank!
    Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian's Rainbow
    Jeremy Morse, Bloodsong of Love
    Bobby Steggert, Ragtime


    Outstanding Featured Actress, Musical
    Carolee Carmello, The Addams Family
    Carrie Cimma, Lizzie Borden
    Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
    Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
    Kenita Miller, Langston in Harlem
    Terri White, Finian's Rainbow

    Outstanding Director, Play
    Jonathan Bank, So Help Me God!
    Jack Cummings III, The Boys in the Band
    Sam Gold, Circle Mirror Transformation
    Michael Grandage, Hamlet
    Michael Grandage, Red
    Ethan Hawke, A Lie of the Mind

    Outstanding Director, Musical
    Warren Carlyle, Finian's Rainbow
    Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
    Igor Goldin, Yank!
    Terry Johnson, La Cage Aux Folles
    Michael Mayer, American Idiot
    Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

    Outstanding Choreography
    Warren Carlyle, Finian's Rainbow
    Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
    Lynne Page, La Cage Aux Folles
    Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
    Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
    Sergio Trujillo, Memphis

    Outstanding Music
    David Bryan, Memphis
    Michael Friedman, Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson
    Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love
    John Kander, Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys
    Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
    Joseph Zellnik, Yank!

    Outstanding Lyrics
    Rick Crom, Newsicall
    Kevin Del Aguila, Click, Clack, Moo
    John Kander, Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys
    Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson, Fascinating Aïda: Absolutely Miraculous!
    Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
    David Zellnik, Yank!

    Outstanding Book
    Joe DiPietro, Memphis
    Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love
    Dick Scanlan, Sherrie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
    David Thompson, The Scottsboro Boys
    Alex Timbers, Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson
    David Zellnik, Yank!

    Outstanding Revue
    Fascinating Aïda: Absolutely Miraculous!
    Million Dollar Quartet
    Newsical The Musical
    Simon Green: Traveling Light
    Sondheim on Sondheim


    Outstanding Solo Performance
    Theodore Bikel, Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears
    Jim Brochu, Zero Hour
    Colman Domingo, A Boy and his Soul
    Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking
    Judith Ivey, The Lady With All the Answers
    Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy

    Unique Theatrical Experience
    Fêtes de la Nuit
    Hansel and Gretel
    Love, Loss, and What I Wore
    The Provenance of Beauty
    Stuffed and Unstrung

    For the nominees in these catagories, visit www.dramadesk.com:
    Outstanding Music in a Play
    Outstanding Set Design
    Outstanding Costume Design
    Outstanding Lighting Design
    Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
    Outstanding Sound Design in a Play

    Drama Desk honors Bway, Off Bway, Off Off Bway, and not-for-profit theater. Robert R. Blume is Awards exec producer of the DD Awards, which are co-presented by Theatermania.com, with Jeff Kalpak as director.

    The nominees were feted to a reception May 6 at the Brazilian steak house Churrascaria Plataforma on West 49th Street.

    A limited number of tickets are still available at www.theatermania.com.

    Oh, What a Season!

    An economic downturn, rampant unemployment, home mortagemania, terrorist plots, and a drop in tourism must have happened in a Dallas-type dream. It certainly hasn't affected theater attendance with Bway and Off Bway boasting their best season yet.


    The fact that ticket prices are through the roof hasn't hurt to make box offices boffo. It's something everyone complains about but which they keep ignoring. Natives and visitors alike flock to the unique TKTS booth in Times Square, and not just to perch themselves in the dark at the top for the red stairs. What would theater attendance be without TKTS [the booths and their mailings offering steep ticket discounts]?

    No denying, this season audiences didn't flock to theater only because of their love for The Bard, celebrated-to-the-nth-degree composer Sondheim, or any number of brilliant playwrights. It was star power that filled seats.

    New York theater can almost lay claim to M-G-M's old tagline of boasting to have "More stars than there are in Heaven." So many A-List artists appeared or are appearinging this season that producer wallets must be empty.

    Among the stage veterans and stars of film and TV are Dylan Baker, Justin Bartha, Laura Benanti, Theodore Bikel, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bogosian, Abigail Breslin, Matthew Broderick, Norbert Leo Butz, Keith Carradine, Michael Cerveris, Kristin Chenoweth, Victoria Clark, Barbara Cook, Daniel Craig, Willem Dafoe, Hugh Dancy, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis, Dame Edna, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Fisher, John Gallagher, Victor Garber, Kelsey Grammar, David Allen Grier, Valerie Harper, Rosemary Harris, Anne Hathaway, Sean Hayes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Beth Hurt, Judith Ivey, Hugh Jackman, Cheyenne Jackson, Brian d'Arcy James, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Johnson, Leslie Jordan, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Anthony LaPaglia, Christine Lahti, Linda Lavin, Jude Law, Laura Linney, and John Lithgow.


    They were joined by Audra MacDonald, Michael McKean, Janet McTeer, Anthony Mackie, Marin Mazzie, Laurie Metcalf, Johnnie Lee Miller, Siena Miller, Alfred Molina, Bebe Neuwirth, Sarah Paulson, Bill Pullman, Tony Roberts, Sam Rockwell, Liev Schreiber, Tony Shalhoub, Alicia Silverstone, Anna Deavere Smith, Jimmy Smits, James Spader, John Stamos, Julia Stiles, Richard Thomas, Michael Urie, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, Ben Whishaw, Lillias White, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, the Allureing Catharine Zeta-Jones, and, last but certainly not least, in her last stage appearance, Lynn Redgrave.

    Next Season Possibilities

    Let's hope the president of the United States, at least the one on Fox-TV's blockbuster thriller 24, which comes to an end next week after eight seasons, Tony, DD, and Emmy-winner Cherry Jones; and, with the conclusion of the mysterious mystery series Lost after six seasons, Emmy winner Michael Emerson, who played arch enemy Ben Linus and Henry Gale, will soon return to New York stages.

    [Can you wait for the DVD box sets of these two series, among the best ever on TV?]


    Jones, returning to New York the day after 24 wrapped, dropped off her luggage, made a quick change, and was immediately off to the theater to catch former partner Sarah Paulson in Collected Stories.

    "As much as I loved California-living," she said, "I really missed doing theater. I'm itching to get back onstage."

    From the number of scripts being sent to her by her agent, that may be sooner than later.

    Honors for a Theatical Dynamo

    Monday, beginning at 6:30, at the awesome Capitale [130 Bowery at Grand Street], the Lower East Side Tenement Museum [97 Orchard Street] will not only celebrate its 22nd Anniversary as a cultural institution but will also honor one of show business' most honored artists and her activist husband.

    Award-winning stage [four Tony noms; four and won DD Awards], and screen [two-time Emmy nom] actress, even [male] beauty pageant emcee Tovah Feldshuh and Andrew Levy, a real estate attorney whose roots extent to a family-run dry goods store on the LES's Rivington Street, will be saluted with a gala dinner and entertainment. There will also be a live auction run by a Christie's auctioneer.


    Feldshuh is the recipient of the Israel Peace Medal and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitas Award and is tireless in her work in the development, enrichment, and support of the Jewish community through the arts. Levy, a contributor to the New York Law Journal, is a former assistant adjunct professor at NYU's Center for Hospitality Studies.

    Headlining the entertainment will be none other than the indefatigable Feldshuh, currently appearing at San Diego's Old Globe in her hit one-woman show, Golda's Balcony and who, in tireless Feldshuh style, will fly in on her dark day only to return West for her last week of performances.

    Chef Pichet Ong, whose celebrated cuisine at P*ONG, Village Tart, the Spot, and Batch Bakery, blends Southeast Asia with traditional American, will also be saluted.

    The goal is to awareness of the Tenement Museum and support for Museum's educational programs [serving 160,000 visitors annually] and upkeep of the six period apartments that reflect the personal histories of former LES families.

    The Museum is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums and an affiliate of the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was recently honored in White House ceremonies with the Preserve America Presidential Award and the National Medal for Museum Service.

    Honors from the Theatre Museum

    Last Monday at the Players Club in Grammercy Park, the Theatre Museum honored Disney film musical legends Richard M Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with its Theatre Museum's Career Achievement Award, the Mint Theatre Company for Theatre Preservation in their mission to revive long ago classics; and Samuel French, the publisher/licensee of countless plays, for Theatre Arts Education.


    Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher made the presentation to Richard Sherman, who accepted on behalf of his brother Robert, who was in London and unable to attend. Veteran actor George Morfogen made the Mint presentation to the theatre's A.D. Jonathan Bank.

    Among the artists providing entertainment were John Bolton, Kevin Cahoon, Jim Dale, Jessica Grove, and Noah Racey. The entertainment portion was directed by Tony Walton, with Aaron Gandy as musical director.

    Tony and Drama Desk winner Dale, an Oscar-winner for Best Song for his tune "Georgy Girl," performed Sherman Brothers songs from the once-Broadway bound musical, Busker Alley, based on the film St. Martin's Lane which starred Charles Laughton.

    "I remember the buskers outside London's West End theatres in the late 40s," said Dale. "I'd been taught their comedic dancing when I was nine, so when Tony Walton [who was to direct the musical] offered me the role of Charlie Baxter, I had a good idea of his kind of life. I went a step further and learned ventriloquism and to play ukulele. It's a wonderful role for any song and dance man. I still hope one day it will materialize onstage. My added experience as a comic in the British Music Hall traditions was an enormous help. The score is better than Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang and Mary Poppins."

    Helen Marie Guditis, is T.M. board prez with Bway producer/author/playwright Stewart F. Lane as board chair. The Museum has presented awards for excellence in theater history preservation and theater arts education, For more information on Theatre Museum programs, visit www.thetheatremuseum.org.

    A Don't Miss Event

    Town Hall will present the 10th Anniversary Season season finale of the Broadway By the Year series, created, written and hosted by Scott Siegel on June 14 with highlights from all 10 season. The songs will come from such musicals as Aspects of Love, Falsettos, Jersey Boys, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime,, and Wicked.

    "It was our intention to make this 10th Anniversary season as special and memorable as possible," said Siegel. "To that end, fr our final show of the season [June 14]," he continues, "we'll got something spectacular and very special planned - something we've never done before. The cast members will perform one song from each show we've celebrated from 1990 to 2010. That's going to be 21 great showstopping tunes."

    Music director/arranger Ross Patterson will be joined by his Little Big Band.

    Single tickets are $45-$55 and available at the Town Hall box office, at www.the-townhall-nyc.org, through Ticketmaster, (800) 982-2787 and their web site, www.ticketmaster.com.

    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM | Item Link

    Ellis Nassour is an international media journalist, and author of Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, which he has adapted into a musical for the stage. Visit www.patsyclinehta.com.

    He can be reached at [email protected]

    The last five columns written by Ellis Nassour:

    07/02/2010: Summer in the City: Fireworks on the Hudson Launch a Season with Plenty to Do and See

    06/13/2010: The 64th Annual Tony Awards Celebrating Broadway Achievement

    06/10/2010: Tony Honoree Marian Seldes: Grand Duse of the American Theater

    06/08/2010: Starry, Starry Nights [Hopefully] with the Bard; Broadway by the Year Celebrates 10th Anniversary; Old Flames Reignite [Onstage]; Summer in and Out of the City; Stars Rally for Dancers; Cast CDs and Re-releases; New to DVD

    05/21/2010: Patti LuPone Hosts Sunday's Drama Desk Awards; A Starry, Starry Season; Tovah Feldshuh, Sherman Brothers Honored; Broadway By the Year Season Finale

    For a listing of all features written by Ellis, click here.