How well do Drama Desk Awards predict Tony winners for plays?

At last Sunday’s Drama Desk Awards, “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” was named Best Play while Alex Sharp (“Curious Incident”) and Helen Mirren (“The Audience”) took home the lead acting awards. Do these wins make them locks at this coming Sunday’s Tony Awards? (At the bottom of this post, be sure to make your Tony predictions and be in with a chance to win our $100 prize and a place on our leaderboard). 

Since 1975, when it began naming nominees and winners as opposed to just presenting citations for distinguished work, the Drama Desk has previewed 27 of the 39 Best Play Tony champs. Likewise, it has presaged 23 winners for Best Actor (Play) and 20 of the Best Actress (Play) champs. 

There have been six years where the two groups honored different Broadway plays:

1976: “Streamers” (DD), “Travesties” (Tony);

1977: “A Texas Trilogy” (DD), “The Shadow Box”;

1982: “Master Harold and the Boys” (DD), “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby”;

1985: “As Is” (DD), “Biloxi Blues” (Tony);

1990: “The Piano Lesson” (DD), “The Grapes of Wrath” (Tony); and

1998: “The Beauty Queen of Lenane” (DD), “Art” (Tony).

And there have been seven years when the Drama Desk winners for Best Play have been Off-Broadway productions (the Tony winners are listed in brackets afterward):

1986: “A Lie of the Mind” (“I’m Not Rappaport”);

1992: “Marvin’s Room” (“Dancing at Lughnasa”);

1997: “How I Learned to Drive” (“The Last Night of Ballyhoo”;

1999: “Wit” (“Side Man”);

2002: “Metamorphosis”; tied with“The Goat,” which won the Tony;

2009: “Ruined” (“God of Carnage”); and

2012: “Tribes” (“Clybourne Park”).

In 2012, all four of the Tony nominees — the winner “Clybourne Park” as well as “Other Desert Cities,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and “Venus in Fur”— were ineligible at the DDs as they had been considered there for earlier Off-Broadway runs; none had won then. 

And in 1999, “Side Man” was in a similar situation, having contended at the DDs previously for an earlier Off-Broadway engagement.

Three of the DD Off-Broadway champs — “How I Learned to Drive,” “Wit,” and “Ruined” — had already won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

With Best Actor in a Play, there have been 23 Drama Desk/Tony double winners in the last 39 years.

Ten Broadway leading men won over Drama Desk voters but lost their 11 Tony bids: 

Philip Anglim in “The Elephant Man” (1978);

Christopher Plummer in “Othello” (1982);

John Lithgow in “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1985);

Ed Harris in “Precious Sons” (1986);

Brian Bedford, twice for “Two Shakespearean Actors” (1992) and “Timon of Athens” (1994);

Eddie Izzard in “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” (2003);

Kevin Kline in “Henry V” (2004);

Brian F. O’Bryne in “Doubt” (2005);

Liev Schreiber in “A View from the Bridge” (2010); and

Bobby Cannavale in “The Motherfucker with the Hat” (2011).

Three other DD winners were snubbed by the Tonys and did not even contend there: 

Anthony Hopkins in “Equus” (1975); John Kani and Winston Ntshona for “The Island” and “Sizwe Banza Is Dead” shared the Best Actor Tony; 

Dustin Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman” (1984); Jeremy Irons in “The Real Thing” won the Tony; and

Frank Langella in “The Father” (1996); George Grizzard in “A Delicate Balance” won the Tony. 

Two of the DD champs starred in off-Broadway productions:

Nathan Lane in “The Lisbon Traviata” (1990); and

Ron Rifkin in “The Substance of Fire” (1991).

And, in 1997, David Morse in “How I Learned to Drive” tied for the Drama Desk with eventual Tony winner Christopher Plummer in “Barrymore.”

With Best Actress in a Play, there have been 20 Drama Desk/Tony double winners in the last 39 years.

Nine Broadway leading ladies won over Drama Desk voters but lost their 10 Tony bids: 

Rosemary Harris, twice for “The Royal Family” (1976) and “Pack of Lies” (1986);

Irene Worth for “The Cherry Orchard” (1977);

Geraldine James for “The Merchant of Venice” (1990);

Jane Alexander for “The Sisters Rosensweig” (1993);

Eve Best for “A Moon for the Misbegotten” (2007);

Janet McTeer for “Mary Stuart” (2009);

Jan Maxwell for “The Royal Family” (2010); and

Tracie Bennett for “End of the Rainbow” (2010).

In addition, Joan Copeland won the Drama Desk award in 1981 for “The American Clock,” a short-lived drama by her brother Arthur Miller, but was not nominated for a Tony; Jane Lapotaire of “Piaf” won that year.

Nine of the DD champs starred in off-Broadway productions:

Pat Carroll in “Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein” (1980);

Joan Allen in “And a Nightengale Sang” (1984);

Stockard Channing in “Woman in Mind” (1988),

Laura Esterman in “Marvin’s Room” (1992);

Myra Carter in “Three Tall Women” (1994);

Cherry Jones in “Pride’s Crossing” (1998);

Kathleen Chalfant in “Wit” (1999);

Eileen Heckart in “The Waverly Gallery” (2000); and

Lois Smith in “The Trip to Bountiful” (2006).

And, in 2004, Viola Davis of “Intimate Apparel” tied for the Drama Desk with eventual Tony winner Phylicia Rashad for “A Raisin in the Sun.”

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