Drama Desk Nominations

65th Annual Drama Desk Award Nominations

April 21, 2020: Nominations for the 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced today, honoring the outstanding achievements of professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. The Awards will be announced May 31, 2020. The full list of nominees is available below.

In keeping with the Drama Desk’s mission and the theater industry shutdown in mid-March, the nominators considered productions that opened on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway during the 2019-2020 New York theater season, the end of which the Drama Desk determined to be March 11, 2020.

“The Drama Desk Awards this year attest to the community’s vigor and unity and are dedicated to the memory of our friend, colleague, and former president William Wolf,” Charles Wright and David Barbour, Drama Desk Co-Presidents, said.

In determining eligibility of the Broadway productions of Slave Play and Girl from the North Country, which had recent Off-Broadway runs in previous seasons, the nominating committee considered only those elements which constituted new work. The following shows were not eligible because they were considered in other seasons: Sea Wall / A Life, Derren Brown: Secret, Slava’s Snowshow, and Pip’s Island. The nominating committee did not consider God Shows Up by Peter Filichia at the Actors Temple Theatre.

The 2019-2020 Drama Desk Nominating Committee is composed of: Martha Wade Steketee (Dramatics, HowlRound, Urban Excavations), Chair; Linda Buchwald (American Theatre, TDF Stages, Theatre is Easy, Jewish Telegraphic Agency); Peter Filichia (Broadway Select; Broadway Radio; books including Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks, St. Martin’s Press); Sandy MacDonald (New York Theater News, TDF Stages); Jose Solís (American Theatre’s Token Theatre Friends, Scenes in Color, TDF Stages); Zachary Stewart (Theatermania.com); Doug Strassler (Garden State Journal, Back on the Block, TDF Stages); Charles Wright (Drama Desk Co-President), ex officio.

The 65th Annual Drama Desk Award Nominations are as follows.


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:

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. 

Productions with more than one nomination:

Soft Power — 11

The Wrong Man — 9

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven — 8

Octet — 8

The Secret Life of Bees — 7

The Unsinkable Molly Brown — 7

A Strange Loop — 6

The Inheritance — 6

West Side Story — 6

Fefu and Her Friends — 5

Is This A Room — 5

Moulin Rouge! — 5

Einstein’s Dreams — 4

Emojiland — 4

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf — 4

Judgment Day — 4

Little Shop of Horrors — 4

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical — 4

A Soldier’s Play — 3

Greater Clements — 3

Heroes of the Fourth Turning — 3

Jagged Little Pill — 3

Mac Beth — 3

Scotland, PA — 3

The Confession of Lily Dare — 3

Beyond Babel — 2

Cambodian Rock Band – 2

Coal Country — 2

Dana H. — 2

Feral — 2

Medea — 2

Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow — 2

Romeo & Bernadette — 2

Square Go — 2

Additional details about the 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards announcement will be determined as the situation allows and announced at a later date.

Founded in 1955, the Drama Desk Awards honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. The Drama Desk Awards are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters covering theater.

Sponsors for the 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards include The John Gore Organization, Jujamcyn Theatres, The Nederlander Organization, and The Shubert Organization. 

The Drama Desk Awards are presented by the Drama Desk organization in partnership with Broadway Brands. Joey Parnes Productions will produce the ceremony, as it has since 2012.

Visit the Drama Desk Awards website for updated information as it becomes available.

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About Drama Desk

The mission of the Drama Desk is to recognize outstanding achievement in New York theater and encourage discussion of issues significant to theater professionals. The organization accomplishes these goals by bestowing annual awards in more than 30 categories of theater arts and crafts, hosting the awards celebration, and presenting educational forums and panel discussions on theater topics.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 by New York Times arts reporter Sam Zolotow, Edith Oliver of The New Yorker, and New York Post critic Vernon Rice, among others. Six years later, after Rice’s untimely death, the organization initiated an award in his honor for outstanding achievement Off-Broadway. Subsequently expanded and renamed the Drama Desk Awards, they now recognize accomplishments on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway.

About Broadway Brands

Based in the heart of Times Square, Broadway Brands (broadwaybrands.com) is a theater media conglomerate that seeks to build creative, informative, and inspiring products for a variety of audiences on Broadway and beyond. The company made its debut in 2015 with the launch of Broadway Briefing, and recently launched the Broadway App, with more brands on the way.

Broadway Briefing (broadwaybriefing.com) is a fun, fast (and free) must-read morning newsletter for theater professionals.

Broadway News (broadwaynews.com) is the new home for original theater journalism from editor-in-chief Caitlin Huston, with reviews by Charles Isherwood, and featuring contributions from experienced theater journalists.

Broadway Business (broadwaybusiness.com) is an exclusive new suite of products for Broadway professionals.

Broadway App (broadwayapp.com) is a new mobile app designed to help theatergoers navigate the Broadway Theater District.

Broadway Brands is building a community of entertainment entrepreneurs, with a passion for taking show business seriously. It celebrates the history of the industry and is even more excited for its future.

About Joey Parnes Productions

Led by Joey Parnes, a Broadway producer and general manager with over 40 years’ experience, Joey Parnes Productions produces, executive produces, and general manages theatrical productions from the commercial and non-profit worlds, both on and off Broadway, internationally and on the road. Credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award), Hello, Dolly! (2017; Tony Award), To Kill a Mockingbird, Bright Star, Fish in the Dark, The Humans (Tony Award), A Raisin in the Sun (2014; Tony Award), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Tony Award), HAIR (Tony Award) and Passing Strange, among many others. Currently, Joey is working to bring the musicals Almost Famous and KPOP to Broadway. He is a past president of the Yale Dramatic Association and teaches Producing for the Commercial Theatre at Yale School of Drama. Joey served as the Coordinating Producer of the Tony Awards from 2001 to 2008 and has produced the Drama Desk Awards since 2012.