2020 Awards

65th ANNUAL DRAMA DESK AWARD WINNERS: 

Outstanding Play

Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre

Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, Lincoln Center Theater

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Atlantic Theater Company/LAByrinth Theater Company

Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, Playwrights Horizons

***The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez***

Outstanding Musical

Octet, Signature Theatre

The Secret Life of Bees, Atlantic Theater Company

Soft Power, The Public Theater

***A Strange Loop, Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions***

The Wrong Man, MCC Theater

Outstanding Revival of a Play

Fefu and Her Friends, Theatre for a New Audience

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, The Public Theater

Mac Beth, Red Bull Theater/Hunter Theater Project

Much Ado About Nothing, The Public Theater

***A Soldier’s Play, Roundabout Theatre Company***

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

***Little Shop of Horrors***

The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Transport Group

West Side Story

Outstanding Actor in a Play

Charles Busch, The Confession of Lily Dare

***Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements***

Raúl Esparza, Seared

Francis Jue, Cambodian Rock Band

Triney Sandoval, 72 Miles to Go…

Kyle Soller, The Inheritance

Outstanding Actress in a Play

Rose Byrne, Medea

***Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven***

Emily Davis, Is This A Room

April Matthis, Toni Stone

Ruth Negga, Hamlet

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

David Aron Damane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Chris Dwan, Enter Laughing

Joshua Henry, The Wrong Man

Francis Jue, Soft Power

***Larry Owens, A Strange Loop***

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Tammy Blanchard, Little Shop of Horrors

Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Saycon Sengbloh, The Secret Life of Bees

Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill

***Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical***

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Victor Almanzar, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Esteban Andres Cruz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play

***Paul Hilton, The Inheritance***

Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age

Kristina Poe, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Belange Rodríguez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

***Lois Smith, The Inheritance***

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

George Abud, Emojiland

***Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors***

Jay Armstrong Johnson, Scotland, PA

Conrad Ricamora, Soft Power

Ryan Vasquez, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Yesenia Ayala, West Side Story

Paula Leggett Chase, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

LaChanze, The Secret Life of Bees

Alyse Alan Louis, Soft Power

***Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill***

Outstanding Director of a Play

Jessica Blank, Coal Country

***Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance***

John Ortiz, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Tina Satter, Is This A Room

Erica Schmidt, Mac Beth

Outstanding Director of a Musical

***Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop***

Thomas Kail, The Wrong Man

Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Leigh Silverman, Soft Power

Annie Tippe, Octet

Outstanding Choreography 

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, West Side Story

Keone Madrid and Mari Madrid, Beyond Babel

Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

***Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!***

Travis Wall, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Music 

Ross Golan, The Wrong Man

Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop

***Dave Malloy, Octet***

Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams

Duncan Sheik, The Secret Life of Bees

Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power

Outstanding Lyrics 

Susan Birkenhead, The Secret Life of Bees

Adam Gwon, Scotland, PA

***Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop***

Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum, Einstein’s Dreams

Dave Malloy, Octet

Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Outstanding Book of a Musical 

David Henry Hwang, Soft Power

***Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop***

Dave Malloy, Octet

Lynn Nottage, The Secret Life of Bees

Mark Saltzman, Romeo & Bernadette

Dick Scanlan, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Outstanding Orchestrations

***Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill***

Alex Lacamoire, The Wrong Man

Or Matias and Dave Malloy, Octet

Danny Troob, John Clancy, and Larry Hochman, Soft Power

Jonathan Tunick, West Side Story

Outstanding Music in a Play

Steve Earle, Coal Country

Frightened Rabbit, Square Go

Jim Harbourne, Feral

***Martha Redbone, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf***

Adam Seidel, Jane Bruce, and Daniel Ocanto, Original Sound

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play

Catherine Cornell, Mac Beth

***Clint Ramos, Grand Horizons***

Adam Rigg, Fefu and Her Friends

Paul Steinberg, Judgment Day

B.T. Whitehill, The Confession of Lily Dare

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical 

Julian Crouch, Little Shop of Horrors

Anna Louizos, Scotland, PA

***Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!***

Clint Ramos, Soft Power

Amy Rubin and Brittany Vasta, Octet

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play

Asa Benally, Blues for an Alabama Sky

Montana Levi Blanco, Fefu and Her Friends

Toni-Leslie James, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Antony McDonald, Judgment Day

***Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn, The Confession of Lily Dare***

Kaye Voyce, Coriolanus

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical

Vanessa Leuck, Emojiland 

Jeff Mahshie, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Anita Yavich, Soft Power

***Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!***

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play

Isabella Byrd, Heroes of the Fourth Turning

Oona Curley, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House

***Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside***

Mimi Jordan Sherin, Judgment Day

Yi Zhao, Greater Clements

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical 

Betsy Adams, The Wrong Man

Jane Cox, The Secret Life of Bees

Herrick Goldman, Einstein’s Dreams

Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

***Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!***

Outstanding Projection Design

David Bengali, Einstein’s Dreams

Julia Frey, Medea

***Luke Halls, West Side Story*** 

Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE, Emojiland

Hannah Wasileski, Fires in the Mirror

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play

***Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, The Inheritance***

Justin Ellington, Heroes of the Fourth Turning

Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.

Palmer Hefferan, Fefu and Her Friends

Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada, Is This A Room

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical

Tom Gibbons, West Side Story

Kai Harada, Soft Power

***Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge!***

Hidenori Nakajo, Octet

Nevin Steinberg, The Wrong Man

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design

***Campbell Young Associates, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical***

Cookie Jordan, Fefu and Her Friends

Nikiya Mathis, STEW

Tom Watson, The Great Society

Bobbie Zlotnik, Emojiland

Outstanding Solo Performance

David Cale, We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time

Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke

***Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton***

Jacqueline Novak, Get on Your Knees

Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.

Unique Theatrical Experience

Beyond Babel, Hideaway Circus 

Feral, Tortoise in a Nutshell/Cumbernauld Theatre/59E59 

***Is This A Room, Vineyard Theatre***

Midsummer: A Banquet, Food of Love Productions/Third Rail Projects

Outstanding Fight Choreography

Vicki Manderson, Square Go

***Thomas Schall, A Soldier’s Play***

UnkleDave’s Fight House, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

Outstanding Adaptation 

***A Christmas Carol, by Jack Thorne***

Judgment Day, by Christopher Shinn

Mojada, by Luis Alfaro

Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, by Halley Feiffer

Outstanding Puppet Design

***Raphael Mishler, Tumacho*** 

Rockefeller Productions, Paddington Gets in a Jam

Amanda Villalobos, Is This A Room

Special Awards: 

The Harold Prince Award: Drama Desk Awards’ new lifetime achievement award is presented posthumously to Hal Prince.

Ensemble Award: To the eight pitch-perfect performers in Dave Malloy’s a cappella musical Octet: Adam Bashian, Kim Blanck, Starr Busby, Alex Gibson, Justin Gregory Lopez, J.D. Mollison, Margo Seibert, and Kuhoo Verma proved instrumental in giving a layered look at modern forms of addiction.

Sam Norkin Award: To actress Mary Bacon, who continued her versatile career of compassionate, searing work for such companies as The Mint, Primary Stages, The Public Theater, and The Actors Theater Company, with two of Off-Broadway’s most humane performances this season in Coal Country at the Public Theater and Nothing Gold Can Stay presented by Partial Comfort Productions.

To The Actors Fund, Seth Rudetsky, and James Wesley for connecting members of the theater community and lifting spirits during the coronavirus crisis. The Actors Fund has worked tirelessly to provide financial and health resources to those impacted by the pandemic; Rudetsky and Wesley’s semi-daily “Stars in the House” webcast is raising funds for The Actors Fund, while providing performances, reunions, and medical updates.

To The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater” that began in 1957 and evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater. The current Mobile Unit tours free Shakespeare throughout the five boroughs, including prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers, reminding audiences new and old that the play really is the thing. 

To WP Theater and Julia Miles, the company’s founder who died this spring. Formerly known as The Women’s Project and Productions, the company began in 1978 at American Place Theatre, where Miles served as associate to visionary artistic director Wynn Handman, who also died this spring. WP is the largest, most enduring American company that nurtures and produces works by female-identified creators. Over a little more than four decades, it has changed the demographics of American drama through an unwavering focus on women writers, directors, producers, performers, and craftspeople.

To Claire Warden for her pioneering work as an intimacy choreographer in such recent projects as Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune and Linda Vista, and her leadership in the rapidly emerging movement of intimacy direction. As part of the creative team of Intimacy Directors & Coordinators and Director of Engagement for and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International, she is helping create theater experiences that are safer for performers and more authentic for contemporary audiences. 

Awards by production:

A Strange Loop — 5

The Inheritance — 5

Moulin Rouge! — 5

Little Shop of Horrors — 2

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical — 2

A Soldier’s Play — 2

Jagged Little Pill — 2

Greater Clements — 1

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven — 1

Octet — 1

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf — 1

Grand Horizons — 1

The Sound Inside — 1

West Side Story — 1

The Confession of Lily Dare — 1

My Name is Lucy Barton — 1

Is This A Room — 1

A Christmas Carol — 1

Tumacho — 1