In a virtual ceremony this evening, streaming through the interactive Awards Room platform, the 2021 Drama League Awards – the oldest national theatrical honors, first inaugurated in 1922, then formalized in 1935 – continued its historic tradition of celebrating outstanding accomplishments in theater, with the recognition of its 87th annual award recipients.
For the past year of the COVID-19 shutdown of live in-person performances, the long-standing awards were modified to reflect the theater community’s pandemic-time response, with five unique new categories honoring the innovative achievements in digital and socially-distanced productions that premiered between March 12, 2020-March 15, 2021. In addition to the competitive categories, The Drama League also presented its annual Special Honors and the inaugural Gratitude Award.
The 45-minute presentation opened with introductory remarks by Executive Directors Gabriel Stelian-Shanks and Bevin Ross. Among the stars appearing on the stream were Gloria, Emilio, and Emily Estefan, along with the evening’s previously announced honorees Iris Smith (the Gratitude Award), Liesl Tommy (The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing), Richard and Demi Weitz (Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater), and representatives of The Actors Fund (Unique Contribution to Theater Award).
And the winners are:
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL THEATER, INDIVIDUAL PRODUCTION
The Great Work Begins: Scenes from Angels In America, written by Tony Kushner, directed by Ellie Heyman, presented by amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research);
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL THEATER, COLLECTION OR FESTIVAL
Theater in Quarantine, created by founder Joshua William Gelb (New York, NY) and Katie Rose McLaughlin (New York, NY);
OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE OR SOCIALLY-DISTANCED THEATER
7 Deadly Sins, written by Hilary Bettis, Nilo Cruz, Moisés Kaufman, Rogelio Martinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Carmen Pelaez, and Aurin Squire, conceived and directed by Michel Hausmann, Miami New Drama (Miami Beach, FL);
BEST AUDIO THEATER PRODUCTION
Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club, written by Shakina Nayfack, directed by Laura Savia, Williamstown Theatre Festival (Williamstown, MA) and Audible;
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL CONCERT PRODUCTION
Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, produced by Stephen Sondheim, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Bill Curran, Raúl Esparza, John Gore, and Paul Wontorek, directed by Paul Wontorek, benefit for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), presented by Broadway.com.
Congratulations to all of the recipients, honorees, and nominees, and thanks to everyone for keeping us connected to the theater throughout this very trying year.