This afternoon at 3 pm, Kimberly Akimbo stars Victoria Clark and Justin Cooley announced nominations in fifteen categories for the 38th annual Lucille Lortel Awards, founded by the eponymous actress and producer in 1986, to celebrate outstanding achievements in Off-Broadway theater. Produced by the Off-Broadway League and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, with additional support from the Theatre Development Fund, the 2023 awards presentation ceremony, scheduled for Sunday, May 7, is held as a benefit for the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly known as the Actors Fund).
The Awards Voting Committee consists of representatives of the Off-Broadway League, Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, United Scenic Artists, and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, along with theater journalists, academics, and other Off-Broadway professionals. Leading the nominations this year with six (for Outstanding Play, Director, Ensemble, Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Sound Design) is Wolf Play, a Soho Rep production, produced by MCC Theater, in collaboration with Ma-Yi Theater Company.
And the 2023 nominees are:
Outstanding Play: A Case for the Existence of God, by Samuel D. Hunter; Dark Disabled Stories, by Ryan J. Haddad; Downstate, by Bruce Norris; Epiphany, by Brian Watkins; and Wolf Play, by Hansol Jung;
Outstanding Musical: Dreaming Zenzile, by Somi Kakoma; Harmony, music by Barry Manilow, book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman; SUFFS, by Shaina Taub; Titaníque, by Marla Mindelle, Constantine Rousouli, and Tye Blue; and Weightless, by The Kilbanes;
Outstanding Revival: A Bright New Boise, Signature Theatre; Endgame, Irish Repertory Theatre; A Man of No Importance, Classic Stage Company; Merrily We Roll Along, New York Theatre Workshop; and A Raisin in the Sun, The Public Theater;
Outstanding Director: Zi Alikhan, On That Day in Amsterdam; David Cromer, A Case for the Existence of God; Robert O’Hara, A Raisin in the Sun; Whitney White, soft; and Dustin Wills, Wolf Play;
Outstanding Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuehler, Only Gold; Warren Carlyle, Harmony; Edgar Godineaux, The Harder They Come; Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots; and Ellenore Scott, Titaníque;
Outstanding Lead Performer in a Play: Kyle Beltran, A Case For the Existence of God; Marylouise Burke, Epiphany; K. Todd Freeman, Downstate; Ryan J. Haddad, Dark Disabled Stories; Bill Irwin, Endgame; Tonya Pinkins, A Raisin in the Sun; and John Douglas Thompson, Endgame;
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Play: Mia Barron, The Coast Starlight; Susanna Guzman, Downstate; Ryan J. Haddad, american (tele)visions; Dickie Hearts, Dark Disabled Stories; Patrice Johnson Chevannes, Endgame; Maureen Sebastian, The Best We Could (a family tragedy); and Eddie Torres, Downstate;
Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical: Nicholas Barasch, The Butcher Boy; Callum Francis, Kinky Boots; Natey Jones, The Harder They Come; Somi Kakoma, Dreaming Zenzile; Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along; Marla Mindelle, Titaníque; and Jim Parsons, A Man of No Importance;
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Musical: Krystal Joy Brown, Merrily We Roll Along; Darren Goldstein, The Bedwetter; Nikki M. James, SUFFS; Jacob Ming-Trent, The Harder They Come; John Riddle, Titaníque; Reg Rogers, Merrily We Roll Along; and A.J. Shively, A Man of No Importance;
Outstanding Ensemble: The Nosebleed (Drae Campbell, Ashil Lee, Chris Manley, Aya Ogawa, Saori Tsukada, and Kaili Y. Turner); soft (Leon Addison Brown, Biko Eisen-Martin, Dharon Jones, Essence Lotus, Travis Raeburn, Shakur Tolliver, Dario Vazquez, and Ed Ventura); and Wolf Play (Christopher Bannow, Esco Jouléy, Brian Quijada, Nicole Villamil, and Mitchell Winter);
Outstanding Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty, Epiphany; You-Shin Chen, Wolf Play; dots, You Will Get Sick; Arnulfo Maldonado, A Case for the Existence of God; and Clint Ramos, The Far Country;
Outstanding Costume Design: Enver Chakartash, The Trees; Sarah Laux, Wish You Were Her; Orla Long, Endgame; Qween Jean, soft; and Alejo Vietti, Titaníque;
Outstanding Lighting Design: Isabella Byrd, Epiphany; Jiyoun Chang, The Far Country; Tyler Micoleau, A Case for the Existence of God; Barbara Samuels, Wolf Play; and Cha See, On That Day in Amsterdam;
Outstanding Sound Design: Mikhail Fiksel, How To Defend Yourself; Daniel Kluger, Epiphany; Kate Marvin, Wolf Play; Theater Mitu, american (tele)visions; and Sinan Refik Zafar, Letters from Max, a ritual;
Outstanding Projection Design: Alex Basco Koch, The Orchard; Yee Eun Nam, Once Upon a (korean) Time; Kameron Neal, Dark Disabled Stories; Theater Mitu, american (tele)visions; and S Katy Tucker, Letters from Max, a ritual.
In addition to the annual awards for excellence, special honors are also bestowed each year at the awards ceremony, including recognition of Lifetime Achievement and Body of Work, and the induction of one playwright, whose work has been performed Off-Broadway, into the Playwrights’ Sidewalk (first unveiled in 1998, as one of Lortel’s last projects), with the recipient’s name engraved into a solid bronze star embedded in black concrete in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre at 121 Christopher Street.
As announced on February 14, the honorees of the 2023 special awards are:
Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee: Ntozake Shange – Best known for her Obie Award-winning play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (1975), the late NJ-born playwright, poet, and Black feminist focused her work on issues related to race and Black power;
Lifetime Achievement Award: Stephen McKinley Henderson – Trained at the Julliard School, the multiple award-nominated character actor came to prominence performing the plays of August Wilson, and was most recently seen in Between Riverside and Crazy, by playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, in productions both on (2022) and off Broadway (2014 and 2015);
Body of Work: A.R.T./New York – Founded in 1972, A.R.T./New York assists over 400 member theaters in managing their companies effectively and providing progressive services through its four core programs: funding, training, space, and connections, including shared office and rehearsal spaces and technical assistance programs for emerging members in NYC’s nonprofit theatre community.
Congratulations to all the nominees and honorees!
The Lucille Lortel Awards will be presented on Sunday, May 7, 2023, 7 pm, at the NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, NYC. For tickets (balcony only, priced at $56-66, including fees), go online. Proof of vaccination and booster is required and masks are strongly recommended.