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Shuffle Along Wins Big at The Drama Desk Awards

Shuffle Along Wins Big at The Drama Desk Awards
Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera photo by Magda Katz

Michael Urie hosted the pre-cursor to the Tony Awards. Traditionally in the past, nominees who have won a Drama Desk Award tend to go on to win a Tony. Board president of the Drama Desk, Charles Wright, provided a little history of the awards and expressed pride that the organization recognizes Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. According to Wright, this season included 270 performances. Chita Rivera presented Outstanding Musical to Shuffle Along and Outstanding Revival of a Musical to She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company. Laura Benanti presented the Special Award to lyricist Sheldon Harnick. Harnick. Judith Light presented the award to Frank Langella for Outstanding Actor in a Play. Langella recalled his win in 1969 for A Cry of Players, when he received a letter in the mail with his name on the list telling him he had won. Stars of Eclipsed Zainab Jah, Pascale Armand, Saycon Sengblogh, Akosua Busia presented playwright Danai Gurira with the Sam Norkin Award. “I love storytelling,”said Gurira. “This year what I have loved is watching ten women of African decent shine on two New York stages. That was one of the most profound lessons of my life because my goal is and will continue to be to bring joy … and to call bulls**t on the notion that only certain stories get to be told and that only people and certain places can be at the core of a narrative.” Former Drama Desk winner Santino Fontana sang “I Was Here” and Carmen Cusack and Paul Alexander Nolan performed “I Had a Vision” from Bright Star and wow’d. Mario Cantone made us laugh with “don’t you miss those high school gymnasiums we used to be at?”

Below are the list of winners. The one star is what we got right in our predictions. Two stars is what we said should win. No stars are what we missed.

*Outstanding Play: The Humans, Roundabout Theatre Company
**Outstanding Musical: Shuffle Along
Outstanding Revival of a Play: A View from the Bridge
*Outstanding Revival of a Musical: She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
*Outstanding Book of a Musical: John Caird, Daddy Long Legs
*Outstanding Actor in a Play: Frank Langella, The Father, Manhattan Theatre Club
*Outstanding Actress in a Play: Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
*Outstanding Actor in a Musical: Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
 **Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
*Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play: Michael Shannon, Long’s Day Journey Into Night
**Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed, Public Theater
*Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
*Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
*Outstanding Director of a Play: Ivo van Hove, A View from the Bridge
*Outstanding Director of a Musical: Tie John Doyle, The Color Purple and Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof
*Outstanding Choreography: Savion Glover, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star
**Outstanding Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen
*Outstanding Orchestrations: Larry Hochman, She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
Outstanding Music in a Play: Philip Glass, The Crucible
Outstanding Set Design for a Play: Christopher Oram, Hughie
**Outstanding Set Design for a Musical: David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Outstanding Costume Design for a Play: Anita Yavich, The Legend of Georgia McBride
*Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical: Ann Roth, Shuffle Along
*Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play: Justin Townsend, The Humans
*Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical: Justin Townsend, American Psycho
*Outstanding Projection Design: Finn Ross, American Psycho
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play: Fitz Patton, The Humans
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical: Dan Moses Schreier, American Psycho
Outstanding Wig and Hair: Mia M. Neal, Shuffle Along
*Outstanding Solo Performance: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fully Committed
*Unique Theatrical Experience: That Physics Show 
Special Awards
The Humans – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
Cassie Beck, Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed, and Sarah Steele spend a very special Thanksgiving Day together in Stephen Karam’s play, reminding us that home is indeed where The Humans are.
The Royale – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
The heavyweight cast of McKinley Belcher III, Khris Davis, Montego Glover, John Lavelle, and Clarke Peters gels as a unit in bringing Marco Ramirez’s story, inspired by Jack Johnson, to unforgettable life, offering a trenchant statement on racism in America.
Sheldon Harnick – Special Drama Desk Award
New productions of Fiddler on the RoofRothschild and Sons, and She Loves Me this season remind us that this veteran lyricist’s takes on faith, family and community are as resonant as ever.
Camp Broadway – Special Drama Desk Award
For more than 20 years, this indispensable organization has introduced young people to the magic of theater. Camp Broadway plays a crucial role in creating tomorrow’s audiences.
Danai Gurira – Sam Norkin Award
Whether writing about women in wartime Liberia in Eclipsed or about an affluent immigrant family from Zimbabwe struggling with assimilation in Familiar, Danai Gurira demonstrates great insight, range, and depth, bringing a fresh new voice to American theater.
We were so happy to see 5 should wins be honored. It is good to be wrong!


Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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