Taran Killam to host Lucille Lortel Awards on May 7

Taran Killam will host the 32nd annual Lucille Lortel Awards honoring the best of off-Broadway on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts. This one-time “Saturday Night Live” star is currently starring on Broadway in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” as King George III. The off-Broadway season ends on March 31 and nominations will be announced on April 4.

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The Lucille Lortel Awards —- named for the renowned actress turned producer — are handed out in a range of categories. Some are akin to those at the Tony Awards, which salute the best of Broadway, such as Best Play and Best Musical. However, rather than separate musical and play performances as do the Tonys, the Lortels lump them together.

These kudos are presented by the Off-Broadway League, a collection of producers who stage shows in smaller venues than those on Broadway. A successful off-Broadway run can lead to a transfer to Broadway and a chance to contend at the Tony Awards. That was what happened to “Hamilton” which parlayed its Lortel laurels sweep in 2015 into an acclaimed run on the rialto.

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The Lucille Lortel Awards do what the Drama Desk Awards used to: celebrate the best of off-Broadway. While the Tony Awards, which date to 1947, salute Broadway, the Drama Desk kudos were begun in 1955 to honor the rest of the New York theater world. And for the first 14 years they did just that with winners coming exclusively from the burgeoning off-Broadway scene. However, beginning with the 15th festivities in 1968, those appearing on Broadway became eligible for consideration and since then these awards have tilted towards those also competing at the Tonys, leaving the off-Broadway performers in the wings until the Lortels came along.

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