Off-Broadways’ biggest night was celebrated on Sunday at the NYU Skirball Center for the performing arts as the 2023 Lucille Lortel Awards were underway. It was a night filled with celebration and recognition for some of the most talented performers and creators in the Off-Broadway community. Named after the legendary actress and producer Lucille Lortel, the awards were first presented in 1986 and have since become a prestigious honor in the theater community.
Awards were handed out to recipients in 15 categories, with four honorary awards also bestowed. The show was hosted by stars of stage and screen: Kevin Cahoon (Tony nominee, “Shucked”), D’Arcy Carden (“The Thanksgiving Play”), Crystal Lucas-Perry (Tony nominee, “Ain’t No Mo’”), Bonnie Milligan (Tony nominee, “Kimberly Akimbo”), Arian Moayed (Tony nominee, “A Doll’s House”), and Tamara Tunie (The New Group’s “Bernarda’s Daughters”). The Lucille Lortel Awards are produced by the Off-Broadway League and Lucille Lortel Theatre, with additional support provided by TDF.
“Wolf Play” was the big winner with a total of five Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Play, Director, Ensemble, Scenic Design, and Sound Design. “Titaníque,” the Celine Dion-inspired comedy musical, took home three awards, including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical, and Outstanding Costume Design. Oskar Eustis accepted the Outstanding Revival award for The Public Theatre’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” In a surprise moment the Edith Oliver Service to Off-Broadway Award was presented by Off-Broadway League President Casey York and Lucille Lortel Theatre Executive Director George Forbes to Victoria Bailey, who has served for 20+ years as Executive Director of TDF.
Special honorees this year included Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Stephen McKinley Henderson, Playwrights’ Sidewalk posthumous inductee Ntozake Shange, and A.R.T./New York, honored for their Body of Work.
The Off-Broadway League’s Lortel Awards Producing & Administration Committee (Jeremy Adams, Tisa Chang, Carol Fishman, George Forbes, Danielle Karliner Naish, Kenneth Naanep, Ralph Peña, Catherine Russell, Lindsey Sag, and Casey York) and the Lucille Lortel Theatre (George Forbes, Jeffrey Shubart, Nancy Hurvitz, Alana Canty-Samuel, Maura Le Viness, and Karla Liriano) produce the Lortel Awards Ceremony. Acclaimed writer/director Michael Heitzman returns to direct the Lortel Awards for the twelfth consecutive year. Representatives of the Off-Broadway League, Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, United Scenic Artists, and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, in addition to theatre journalists, academics, and other Off-Broadway professionals, serve on the Voting Committee.
This year’s lifetime achievement award winner was Lortel Award winner Stephen McKinley Henderson. For his work Off-Broadway in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer-winning show Between Riverside and Crazy, Mr. Henderson received Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards. Other Off-Broadway roles include Pontius Pilate in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Turnbo in Jitney, which transferred to the National Theatre of Great Britain earning August Wilson the Olivier Award. In the fall of 2013 Stephen served as Ruben Santiago Hudson’s associate artistic director for audio recordings of Wilson’s Century Cycle which were live-streamed throughout the cyber world.
This year’s Playwrights Walk Of Fame Inductee was Ntozake Shange, an author of 36 published works who is increasingly recognized as one of America’s greatest writers having, for 50 years, embodied the struggle of women of color for equality and the recognition of their contribution to human culture. The Lucille Lortel Playwrights Walk of Fame is a unique and distinctive tribute to the legendary playwrights who have contributed to the richness of American theater. The walk, which is located in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City, honors playwrights who have made a significant impact on Off-Broadway theater and beyond.
The idea for the Playwrights Walk of Fame was conceived by Lucille Lortel and is maintained by the Lucille Lortel Theatre. It was established in 1998 to support and promote the growth of Off-Broadway theater. The walk was first unveiled in 2001 and has since become a popular destination for theater lovers and tourists alike. The Playwrights Walk of Fame features bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk that bear the names of some of the most distinguished playwrights in American theater history. Among the playwrights honored on the walk are Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and more.
Hear more about the Lucille Lortel Awards and see all of the winners here!