The Drama League does not distinguish between Broadway and off-Broadway when doling out honors. However, all five of its winners — four productions and an individual performance — are frontrunners for the upcoming Tony Awards.
“Oslo” won Best Play over, among others, its three Tony rivals — “A Dolls House, Part 2,” “Indecent,” and “Sweat.” While the British import “The Play That Goes Wrong” was also in contention, Broadway fare that played earlier in the season failed to make the cut with the League nominating committee, which is comprised of both theater professionals and the public. Instead, six off-Broadway productions — “Caught,” “Everybody,” “If I Forget,” “A Life,” “Tell Hector I Miss Him” and “The Wolves” — filled out the ballot.
On the new musical side, “Dear Evan Hansen” prevailed over seven Broadway tuners: the Tony nominees “Come From Away,” “Groundhog Day” and “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” as well as “Amélie,” “Anastasia,” “Bandstand,” and “War Paint.” The slate was filled out with two off-Broadway hits: “Hadestown” and “Ride the Cyclone.”
While the League gives prizes for best play and musical as well as revivals of each genre (those went to the play “Jitney” and tuner “Hello Dolly!”), it is unique among the theater kudos in that it hands out only one award for distinguished performance. And once won, the performer cannot contend again.
This year, 48 actors were competing for the honor first given to Katharine Cornell in 1935. They range from B (Denée Benton, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”) to W (Michelle Wilson, “Sweat”). The winner was Ben Platt, the breakout star of “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Not numbering among those nominees was “Hello, Dolly!” leading lady Bette Midler who received the honorary Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award.
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on June 11. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.