Like the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk, the Drama League does not distinguish between Broadway and off-Broadway when doling out honors. However, with so many shows and performers included in Monday’s nominations, chances are they cover most of the contenders for the upcoming Tony Awards.
Indeed, five of the League’s new play nominees — “Bengal Tiger at the Bagdhad Zoo,” “Good People,” “Jerusalem,” “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” and “War Horse” — are frontrunners for the top Tony. Broadway fare that played earlier in the season such as “Elling” failed to make the cut with the League nominating committee, which is comprised of both theater professionals and the public. Instead, seven off-Broadway productions fill out the ballot, with the winner to be announced during the League luncheon on May 20.
On the new musical side, all of the potential Tony nominees are in the running with the exception of two transfers — “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “The Scottsboro Boys” — which contended last year with their off-Broadway incarnations. The Broadway nominees are “The Book of Mormon,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Elf,” “The People in the Picture,” “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” and “Sister Act” with the off-Broadway tuner “In Transit” rounding out the list.
While the League gives prizes for best play and musical as well as revivals of each genre, it is unique among the theater kudos in that it hands out only one award for distinguished performance. Last year, Alfred Molina won this prize for “Red” but went on to lose the Best Actor Tony to Denzel Washington (“Fences”). Two years ago, Geoffrey Rush took home this award several weeks before prevailing at the Tonys for his performance in “Exit the King.”
This year, 61 actors along with the casts of “Hello Again” and “Sleep No More” are competing for the honor first given to Katharine Cornell in 1935. They range from A (Nina Arianda, “Born Yesterday”) to W (Tom Wopat, “Catch Me If You Can”). For the full roster, visit the Drama League website.