During tonight’s streaming of The Gratitude Awards Spring 2020 – a special pre-recorded online fundraiser celebrating hope, positivity, and acts of kindness by members of the New York theater community in this trying time of COVID-19 quarantine – The Drama League recognized achievements of the 2019-20 season, while generating donations for its important theater initiatives. Proceeds raised during the digital event will be allocated to The Ghost Light Campaign, which supports the organization’s 2020-21 contingent of Directing Fellows and Residents; the New Visions/New Voices after-school directing mentorship program for NYC high-school students; and the micro re-grant program, the Directors Emergency Relief Fund.
The star-studded program featured personal vignettes from Friends of the Drama League, including Aaron Tveit, Adrienne Warren, Condola Rashad, Elizabeth Stanley, Idina Menzel, Jeremy Pope, Kelli O’Hara, Kristin Chenoweth, Marianne Elliott, Megan Hilty, Nathan Lane, and Sutton Foster, and the honorees they gratefully selected for the eponymous tribute awards, who paid it forward with gratitude nominations of their own. Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and Bryan Cranston – all previous recipients of the Drama League’s Distinguished Performance Award – also appeared, and three of the organization’s prestigious annual awards, which were announced prior to the COVID-19 crisis, were presented for 2020:
Founders Award for Excellence in Directing: Marianne Elliott;
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre: James Lapine;
Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award: Terrence McNally, accepted on his behalf by his husband Tom Kirdahy, with an introduction and ‘In Memoriam’ segment dedicated to the acclaimed playwright (who died on March 24, of complications from the coronavirus) by Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross (producers of Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life).
The Drama League then welcomed Alex Brightman and Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, stars of the Broadway production of Beetlejuice, to announce the nominations for The 86th Annual Drama League Artistic Awards in the following five categories:
Outstanding Production of a Play: Cambodian Rock Band; Dana H.; Grand Horizons; The Hot Wing King; The Inheritance; The Michaels; Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow; One in Two; Sea Wall/A Life; Seared; Slave Play; Stew
Outstanding Production of a Musical: Girl from the North Country; Jagged Little Pill; Moulin Rouge!; Octet; The Secret Life of Bees; Sing Street; Six; Soft Power; A Strange Loop; Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Outstanding Revival of a Play: Betrayal; For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf; Fires in the Mirror; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Judgment Day; Medea; Native Son; The Rose Tattoo; A Soldier’s Play; The Woman in Black
Outstanding Revival of a Musical: Enter Laughing; Little Shop of Horrors; Rock of Ages; The Unsinkable Molly Brown; West Side Story
Distinguished Performance Award: David Acton, The Woman in Black; Jeffrey Bean, Dublin Carol; Ato Blankson-Wood, The Rolling Stone and Slave Play; Christian Borle, Little Shop of Horrors; Danielle Brooks, Much Ado About Nothing; Danny Burstein, Moulin Rouge!; Rose Byrne, Medea; Len Cariou, Harry Townsend’s Last Stand; Patrice Johnson Chevannes, runboyrun & In Old Age; Liza Colón-Zayas, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven; Kate del Castillo, the way she spoke; Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements; Raúl Esparza, Seared; Francesca Faridany, The Half-Life of Marie Curie; Halley Feiffer, The Pain of My Belligerence; Danyel Fulton, Broadbend, Arkansas; Annie Golden, Broadway Bounty Hunter; Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Where We Stand; David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play; Jonathan Groff, Little Shop of Horrors; Jake Gyllenhaal, Sea Wall/A Life; Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal; Paul Hilton, The Inheritance; Kathryn Hunter, Timon of Athens; Galen Ryan Kane, Native Son; Brittney Mack, Six; April Matthis, Toni Stone; Susannah Millonzi, The Crucible; Kate Mulgrew, The Half-Life of Marie Curie; Joe Ngo, Cambodian Rock Band; Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.; Brenock O’Connor, Sing Street; Okwui Okpokwasili, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf; Karen Olivo, Moulin Rouge!; Larry Owens, A Strange Loop; Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill; Chris Perfetti, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow; Ben Porter, The Woman in Black; Isaac Powell, West Side Story; Jonathan Pryce, The Height of the Storm; Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven; Michael Shannon, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Tom Sturridge, Sea Wall/A Life; Marisa Tomei, The Rose Tattoo; Blair Underwood, A Soldier’s Play; Michael Urie, Grand Horizons; Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; Michael Benjamin Washington, Fires in the Mirror; Portia, Stew.