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It's Awards Season, But Don't Panic

Sarah Moore reflects on contenders for the Drama Desks, Tonys, and more award shows. logo

Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur (© Joan Marcus)

With the announcement of the Pulitzer Prize this week (congrats to Quiara Alegría Hudes), awards season is upon us. The Outer Critics Circle Awards will be announced April 23, and The Drama League nominations will be announced Tuesday, April 24, a week from yesterday. The Drama League is the one with a ton of actors all nominated for The Distinguished Performance Award- which in the past three years went to Geoffrey Rush for Exit the King (2008-2009), Alfred Molina for Red (2009-2010), and Mark Rylance for Jerusalem and La Bete (2010-2011).

The Drama Desk nominations will be announced Friday April 27, before the Tony Award nominations on the 1st of May. The Drama Desks come right before the Tonys; don't get confused. (We have a guide here at TheaterMania to keep you on track.)

But really, aren't award shows like comparing apples to oranges? For example, some of the eligible actresses for best actress in a play will be Linda Lavin (The Lyons), Stockard Channing (Other Desert Cities), Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur), Cynthia Nixon (Wit), and Tracie Bennett (End of the Rainbow). How do you even compare them to each other? The plays are all completely different and ask different things of their actresses. I'll note that I am selfishly rooting for NYU alum Nina Arianda. She was already nominated for a 2010 Lucille Lortel Award and a 2010 Outer Critics Circle Award for Venus in Fur Off-Broadway.

Or consider this year's seriously steep competition for best new play. The Tony contenders include Chinglish, Clybourne Park, The Columnist, Don't Dress for Dinner, End of the Rainbow, The Lyons, Magic/Bird, The Mountaintop, One Man Two Guvnors, Other Desert Cities, Peter and the Starcatcher, Seminar, Stick Fly, and Venus in Fur.

It's just impossible. I try to think about smaller categories. Let's see, Best Revival of a Musical, while last year there were literally two choices (both of which are still running by the way), we have Evita, Godspell, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Jesus Christ Superstar. Will the Jesuses be pitted against each other? Or will the Lloyd Webber/Rice musicals?

The shows eligible for Best Musical include Ghost, Once, Leap of Faith, Nice Work if You Can Get It and Newsies. (Will people even remember that Spider-Man is eligible this year?)

It's important to remember that award shows are not only subjective but political. Many of the Tony voters have their own biases, and they're almost always looking to award shows with touring potential and/or can benefit from the publicity. Shows that are already closed rarely take home awards.

Neil Patrick Harris is set to host the Tony Awards again this year, which is an excellent choice. Who can forget the end of show rap that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for him last year?

Don't get too personally offended when your favorite performers don't get nominated. (Do as I say, not as I do. I'm still mad that Aaron Tveit wasn't nominated for a Tony for best featured actor in a musical in 2009 for Next to Normal.) Try not to feel too overwhelmed. All the theater people in New York share your pain. There's a lot to see and not enough time.


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