‘Book of Mormon,’ ‘War Horse’ win with Outer Critics Circle

On Monday, the Outer Critics Circle weighed in with their picks for the best of the theater season. Members cover the Gotham theater scene for more than 90 newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and theatre publications around the country and abroad. These kudos often provide hints of the popularity of potential Tony champs.

“The Book of Mormon,” which is nominated for 14 Tonys, won four of its six OCC races: Best Broadway Musical, Best Musical Actor (Josh Gad), Best Director of a Musical (Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker) and Best Score.

“War Horse” was named Best Broadway Play, edging out two of its Tony rivals — “Good People” and “The Motherf**ker With the Hat” — as well as “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” The fourth Tony nominee, “Jerusalem,” picked up Best Foreign Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle last week and earned a Best Actor accolade for Mark Rylance from the OCC. “Good People,” which was named Best Play by the critics, won just one of its five OCC bids as Frances McDormand tied Nina Aridana (“Born Yesterday”) for Best Play Actress.

“War Horse” won two of its other three races — Best Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris) and Best Lighting Design — as well as a special achievement prize for the puppetry.

“Motherf**ker” had to settle for just one win from its six bids — Featured Play Actress (Elizabeth Rodriguez) — while Brian Bedford, who contends in lead at the Tonys, won the Featured Play Actor prize for “The Importance of Being Earnest.” “The Normal Heart” took Best Play Revival. 

Best Musical Actress went to Sutton Foster who headlines “Anything Goes,” which also won three of its seven other races — Best Musical Revival, Best Featured Musical Actor (Adam Godley) and Best Choreography.

Best Featured Musical Actress Laura Benanti was the sole win from four noms for “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”  Likewise, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” claimed just one of its four bids — Best Costumes.

“Sister Act,” which led with nine nods, including Best Broadway Musical and two bids for Best Musical Actress (Patina Miller, Victoria Clark) was completely shut out. Also blanked was five-time contender “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” including a Best Musical Actor bid by Daniel Radcliffe.

While the OCC considers new Broadway and off-Broadway plays and musicals separately, all other categories, such as acting and directing, combine the two. And while there is not always room for all of the eventual Tony nominees, these kudos often provide hints of the popularity of potential Tony winners. Last year, they lined up for the four productions awards — “Red” (Best Play), “Memphis (“Best Musical”), “Fences (Best Play Revival) and “La Cage aux Folles” (Best Muscial Revival) — and the four main acting prizes as well — “Fences” stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, “La Cage” leading man Douglas Hodges and “A Little Night Music” songbird Catherine Zeta-Jones (who tied at the OCC with Montego Glover from “Memphis”).

Two years ago, they agreed on “God of Carnage” (Best Play), “Billy Elliot” (Best Musical) and both leading play performers — Geoffrey Rush in “Exit the King”and Marcia Gay Harden in “God of Carnage.”

Three years ago, they concurred on “August: Osage County” (Best Play) and its leading lady Deanna Dunagan as well as the top musical performers — Paulo Szot in “South Pacific” and Patti LuPone in “Gypsy.” With eventual Tony champ “In the Heights” ineligigle due to an earlier off-Broadway run, the OCC had Tony-snubbed “Young Frankenstein” in a tie with “Xanadu” for Best Musical.

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