‘Tis the season! On Sunday, May 5th, we had the privilege of attending the 34th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The celebratory awards show highlights the best of Off-Broadway theatre for the past season.
Off-Broadway is known for being a space to create thought-provoking and meaningful works. Lortel nominee, Stacey Sargeant (nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for Rags Parkland Sings The Songs Of The Future) spoke to us about representation in the Off-Broadway community and the artistic risks being in an Off-Broadway production allows you take. “[It is] An incredibly exciting time right now, seeing so many different types of representation and risks that we’re able to take in Off-Broadway theatre.”
This is edginess is incredibly appealing to Broadway stars and celebrities alike, many who are seeking out Off-Broadway works to participate in. To name drop a few who were either nominated or presenting at this year’s ceremony, the legendary Joel Grey and Patrick Page. We had the pleasure of speaking with Page on the carpet “I love the variety, the diversity that Off-Broadway allows. The fact that not everything has to be commercial, you can do a piece of work that you really really care about.” Page has performed in numerous Off-Broadway shows himself.
The competition was intense this season, as the Off-Broadway scene saw a very eclectic and diverse body of works, differing in genre and style. This was very notable in the category of Outstanding Musical which had 5 contenders (Be More Chill, Girl From The North Country, Midnight at The Never Get, Miss You Like Hell, Rags Parkland Sings The Songs of The Future) that were all vastly different from each other. Rags Parkland Sings The Songs of The Future written by Andrew R. Butler and produced by Ars Nova won the category. We were able to speak with Butler (who was also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for Rags) on the carpet about his experience at the Lortel awards, the show was nominated for 6 Lortel awards. “It’s thrilling to get to hang out with a bunch of people who I really admire and to get to celebrate all the incredible work that’s happened this year.”
2019 Lortel host and nominee, comedian Mike Birbiglia kept the audience (full of industry personnel) lighthearted and laughing for the entire 3+ hours. Birbiglia’s opening monologue was full of realistic humor, where he discussed his addiction to theatre and “informed” the theatre full of actors, designers, producers, that they were likely going to lose. He offered that he would personally be offering a consolation prize of a high-five to everyone who doesn’t win the Lortel, which several actors referenced in their acceptance speeches. Birbiglia recently concluded a Broadway run of his one-man show Mike Birbiglia’s The New One (which also transferred from an Off-Broadway run in 2018) which was nominated for Outstanding Solo Show, the award for that category went to Fleabag. Fleabag was written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. and produced by Annapurna Theatre, Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Skye Optican, Kevin Emrick, David Luff & Patrick Myles, Barbara Broccoli, Patrick Catullo, Diana DiMenna, Daryl Roth, Eric Schnall, Jayne Baron Sherman, DryWhite, and Soho Theatre.
Carmen Jones went home with the most wins this year, winning for Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical (Anika Noni Rose), Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Soara-Joye Ross), and Outstanding Sound Design (Dan Moses Schreier). Other big winners were Alice By Heart and Pass Over, which each garnered 2 Lortels.
Other highlights included an opening number by the cast of last year’s Outstanding Musical winner, KPOP. Telsey & Co Casting receiving of the Outstanding Body of Work Award this year, which was presented by the iconic Judith Light “I get to thank them [Telsey and Company] for casting me when I hadn’t been on stage in 22 years…I get to be here tonight to give them the honor that they so deeply deserve.” Later in the season, the two-time Tony-winning actress will be the recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award at the 2019 Tonys. A fun and celebratory evening was had by all!
For a full list of this year’s Lucille Lortel Awards winners, please visit: https://www.lortelaward.com/2019