As expected, Tony Awards frontrunner “The Book of Mormon” won Best Musical with the New York Drama Critics Circle. However, it was a surprise that “Good People — David Lindsay-Abaire‘s valentine to his working class neighbourhood in South Boston starring Oscar champ Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) — took Best Play over its Tony rivals “Jerusalem,” “The Motherf***er with the Hat” and “War Horse.”
The winners and voting patterns for these awards are telling as these critics from Gotham-based newspapers and magazines (with the exception of the New York Times) have been reinstated as Tony voters this year. Last year, they along with the rest of the first night press list were dropped but this top tier of reviewers has been welcomed back.
“Mormon,” a sassy satire on organized religion by Emmy winners Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“South Park”) and Tony champ Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”) won in the first round of voting being the top choice of 17 of the two dozen critics.
However, the balloting for the play prize went four rounds. In the first, no play received more than five votes. By the third ballot, which was weighted, both “Good People” and “Jerusalem” were tied at 23 points while “Other Desert CIties” was at 22, “The Motherf***er with the Hat” had 11 points and the other contenders — “Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo,” “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures” and “War Horse” — scored in the single digits. With all nominees short of the winning threshold, only the top four vote-getters went to the fourth round, which “Good People” won with 34 points to 30 for “Other Desert Cities.”
With the top award going to an American work, the Circle named a Best Foreign Play. This was a two-way race between “Jerusalem” and “War Horse” which went three rounds before the Jez Butterworth play about the class system in England prevailed over Nick Stafford‘s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo‘s children’s classic by a score of 49 to 37.
The Circle will aslo bestow three special citiations at its private May 16 ceremony to: the revival of “The Normal Heart,” Mark Rylance who starred in both “La Bete” and “Jerusalem” this season and the creative team behind “War Horse.”