Drama Desk Awards 2020 - And the Nominees are...

Soft Power and The Wrong Man lead the pack as the most nominated productions of the 2019-2020 season.

Soft Power and The Wrong Man

The nominations have now been announced for The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards and leading the pack with a grand total of 11 nominations is the New York premiere of David Henry HwangJeanine Tesori's musical Soft Power, followed by Ross Golan's world premiere musical The Wrong Man with 9 nods.

Due to the current pandemic, the Drama Desk determined that all productions which officially opened on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway during the 2019-2020 season before the enforced shutdown on March 11, 2020 would be eligible for nomination.

Charles Wright and David Barbour, Drama Desk Co-Presidents, added: “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.”

Note: In terms of eligibility, as the Broadway productions of Slave Play and Girl From the North Country were previously staged Off-Broadway, only those elements which constituted new work were considered for nomination. The following productions were deemed not eligible due to their stagings in past seasons: Sea Wall/A LifeDerren Brown: SecretSlava’s Snowshow and Pip’s Island.

As previously reported, the winners of The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards will be announced online on May 31, 2020.


The 2020 Nominees by category are:

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! The Musical

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 Set Design of 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 Set Design for a Musical

Julian Crouch, Little Shop of Horrors

Anna Louizos, Scotland, PA

Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge! The Musical

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! The Musical


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! The Musical


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 in 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 in a Musical

Tom Gibbons, West Side Story

Kai Harada, Soft Power

Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge! The Musical

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 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 Clair 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. 


Drama Desk was founded in 1949 to explore key issues in the theater and to bring together critics and writers in an organization to support the ongoing development of theater in New York. The organization began presenting its awards in 1955, and it is the only critics' organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories.