The first of the precursor prizes for the Tonys, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, revealed their winners on Monday. Two of our leading Tony frontrunners for new productions — the play “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and the tuner “An American in Paris” — took these trophies here. However, their biggest Tonys rivals — “Hand to God” and “Fun Home” respectively — were ineligible with the OCC as they had contended previously for their off-Broadway productions. (See complete list of winners here.)
“Curious Incident” won five of its six bids, including Best Broadway Play and Best Actor (Alex Sharp) as well as Direction, Lighting and Set Design. However, Featured Actress nominee Francesca Faridany lost to Tonys frontrunner Annaleigh Ashford for “You Cant Take It With You,” which also won Best Play Revival.
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While “The King and I” won Best Musical Revival and Featured Actress (Ruthie Ann Miles), its biggest Tony rival, “On the Twentieth Century,” took Best Actress (Kristin Chenoweth) and Featured Actor (Andy Karl).
These kudos, now in their 65th year, are bestowed by members of the press covering the Gotham theater scene for more than 90 newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and theatre publications around the country and abroad. Winners will be feted at Sardi’s on May 21.
While the OCC considers new Broadway and off-Broadway plays and musicals separately, all other categories, such as acting and directing, combine the two. As such, there is not always room for all of the eventual Tony nominees. But the Outer Critics Circle Awards often provide hints of the popularity of potential Tony winners.
Last year, these kudos tipped three of the big winners at the Tonys — the new play “All the Way,” the new musical “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and the revival of the tuner “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” And it went two for four among the lead acting races, with Bryan Cranston (“All the Way”) and Audra McDonald (“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”) prevailing here first; McDonald was shifted from the musical to play category at the Tonys.
In 2013, the OCC foresaw all four Tony production prize champs — “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Best Play), “Kinky Boots” (Best Musical), “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Best Play Revival) and “Pippin” (Best Musical Revival). And three of the four winners of the OCC lead acting races went on to claim Tonys: play performer Cicely Tyson (“The Trip to Bountiful”) and song-and-dance stars Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots”) and Patina Miller (“Pippin”).