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  • Winners of 64th Drama Desk Awards (left to right) Jay O Sanders, Stephanie J. Block and Santino Fontana. (Photo: Debra Beattie/TheImproper)

    The Prom was awarded the top prize for Outstanding Musical, while Tootsie and Hadestown were big winners among musicals at the 64th Drama Desk Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

    The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth took home the outstanding play award, while The Waverly Gallery won for best play revival.

    Click Here to See the 64th Drama Desk Awards in Photos!

    Fiddler on the Roof at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and Off-Broadway won for best musical revival.

    Jay O. Sanders won the Outstanding Actor Award for a play for his role in Uncle Vanya while Elaine May took home the same award for actresses for her role in The Waverly Gallery.

    Outstanding actress and actor awards in a musical, respectively, went to Stephanie J. Block for her role The Cher Show, and Santino Fontana in Tootsie.

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    Other honorees included Sam Mendes for Outstanding Direction of a play, The Ferryman, and Rachel Chavkin for Outstanding Direction of a Musical, Hadestown.

    The Drama Desk honors were celebrated at Town Hall in New York City on Sunday (June 2), with host Michael Urie at its helm for the fourth consecutive year.

    Tootsie also won awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics for David Yazbek, as well as Outstanding Book of a Musical for Robert Horn.

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    Hadestown was only eligible in select categories that were unique to the Off-Broadway production in 2016. It took home awards for Rachel Chavki won for Outstanding Direction of a Musical and Andre De Shields won for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

    The production also won for Outstanding Sound Design and Lighting Design.

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    The winners spoke with TheImproper about their experiences working on their shows, reflecting on a season that spoke to enthusiastic audiences in new and exciting ways.


    Rachel Chavkin

    Rachel Chavkin (director, Hadestown), on her un-traditional style: “I happily don’t have to think too much about how to do it. I try to be cognizant of when the box just doesn’t make sense and to not spend too much time being worried about fitting into a mold that maybe doesn’t make sense or feel good to me. There’s a constant checking in of your own taste more than anything. Happily, as a director, for better or for worse, you have to spend basically your entire life trusting your taste and hoping you don’t lose faith in your taste when other people may or may not agree with it. That makes it easier to just go, ‘This is what I want to be doing in my life and it doesn’t matter.’ I like a lot of different things, I’m happy to be a refresher.”


    Celia Keenan Bolger

    Celia Keenan Bolger (To Kill a Mockingbird) on how her version of Mockingbird’s Scout speaks to young generations: I hope that they will have a sense that I did when I read the book. Even young people can have a relationship to morality and justice. The book is about this, but I really think the play is even more about these three kids, in particular Scout, going through some very big and hard events in that town and what she believes is right and wrong and when to stand up for that. I hope that young people that come and see this will feel like they also get to be participants in this cultural moment and that they will have some sense of what’s happening in our world right now and feel some agency inside of it.


    Bob Mackie

    Bob Mackie (costume designer, The Cher Show) on one show design that epitomizes his experience working on the musical: I had the most fun re-creating a costume that I didn’t originally do, which was the Sonny and Cher look, the fur vests, the bell-bottom pants and the funny outfits that they originally wore. They’re so iconic. It was a big deal when they showed up on the scene dressed like that. I was doing television shows and we would do musical numbers about current looks and people, and we’d always have people that looked just like that. It was fun to do it for real on the real characters.

    On how he would like to see himself return to New York theater: I would love to do another show. I love doing musicals because I really understand dance and I’ve done that my whole life. I’d also love to do a really funny show because I love to do comedy. All those years at ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ I surely have some experience.


    Warren Carlyle

    Warren Carlyle (choreographer, Kiss Me, Kate) on the concept for Kiss Me, Kate’s showstopping number, “Too Darn Hot”: I think it was just a show of strength. “Too Darn Hot” is so much a battle of the sexes. The men dance and the women dance, and then there’s a competition and the pas de deux. It became about how we’re this strong, and we’re just going to do this. It was no more complex than that.

    On how he can top the “hottest” number of the season: I probably just have to take a deep breath and start on page one with [Broadway’s upcoming] The Music Man, so I’m lucky that I get to play with Hugh Jackman and some really super-talented people.


    Stephanie J. Block

    Stephanie J. Block (The Cher Show) on a line from The Cher Show that epitomizes the experience of working on it: One of the final lines is, ‘You win some, you learn some.’ This really has been one of those journeys where, if I have fallen on my face, which I have many times trying to develop this character, making a complete fool out of myself, going home and feeling like the worst actress in the world, it never has been a ‘give up’ situation. I learned that I’m going to pick myself up the next day, and we’re going to move forward with whatever lessons we learned the day before. I think that speaks to a lot of actors’ journeys; it certainly speaks to Cher as being that resilient force of nature, and I think that line will stick with me for a long time.
    On which lessons she takes away from working with Cher: Truly be your authentic self. Don’t fake the smile, don’t fake the tears, just be who you are in whatever moment you are, and it will service you. She’s always so authentically herself. I think that’s why people have come to really love her; she may be dressing in feathers and sequins, but we know at the core of her she is authentically true and real. That is something I’m going to take with me.

    Check out the 2019 Drama Desk Winners and nominees below. For more, check out the Drama Desk Web site.

    The 64th Drama Desk Awards Nominees and Winners (in bold)

    Outstanding Play
    Fairview, by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Soho Rep
    The Ferryman, by Jez Butterworth
    Lewiston/Clarkston, by Samuel D. Hunter, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
    Usual Girls, by Ming Peiffer, Roundabout Theatre Company
    What the Constitution Means to Me, by Heidi Schreck, New York Theatre Workshop and Broadway

    Outstanding Musical
    Be More Chill
    The Hello Girls, Prospect Theater Company
    The Prom
    Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future, Ars Nova

    Outstanding Revival of a Play
    Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, Signature Theatre
    Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts, National Asian American Theatre Company
    Our Lady of 121st Street, Signature Theatre
    Summer and Smoke, Classic Stage Company/Transport Group
    The Waverly Gallery
    Uncle Vanya, Hunter Theater Project

    Outstanding Revival of a Musical
    Carmen Jones, Classic Stage Company
    Fiddler on the Roof, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and Off-Broadway
    Kiss Me, Kate, Roundabout Theatre Company
    Merrily We Roll Along, Fiasco Theater/Roundabout Theatre Companyc
    Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Bard Summerscape/St. Ann’s Warehouse andBroadway

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    Jeff Biehl, Life Sucks
    Edmund Donovan, Lewiston/Clarkston
    Raúl Esparza, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
    Russell Harvard, I Was Most Alive With You
    Jay O. Sanders, Uncle Vanya

    Outstanding Actress in a Play
    Midori Francis, Usual Girls
    Zainab Jah, Boesman and Lena
    Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
    Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
    Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical
    Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
    Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    Damon Daunno, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Santino Fontana, Tootsie
    Steven Skybell, Fiddler on the Roof

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
    Beth Leavel, The Prom
    Rebecca Naomi Jones,Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Anika Noni Rose, Carmen Jones
    Stacey Sargeant, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future

    Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
    Charles Browning, Fairview
    Arnie Burton, Lewiston/Clarkston
    Hampton Fluker, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
    Tom Glynn-Carney, The Ferryman
    Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This

    Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
    Harriett D. Foy, The House That Will Not Stand
    Megan Hill, Eddie and Dave
    Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill A Mockingbird
    Ruth Wilson, King Lear
    Alison Wright, Othello

    Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
    Corbin Bleu, Kiss Me, Kate
    André De Shields, Hadestown
    Sydney James Harcourt, Girl from the North Country
    George Salazar, Be More Chill
    Patrick Vaill, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
    Stephanie Hsu, Be More Chill
    Leslie Kritzer, Beetlejuice
    Soara-Joye Ross, Carmen Jones
    Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
    Ali Stroker, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Mary Testa, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    Outstanding Director of a Play
    Sarah Benson, Fairview
    Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, The Jungle
    Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
    Tyne Rafaeli, Usual Girls
    Taylor Reynolds, Plano
    Jeff Wise, Life Sucks

    Outstanding Director of a Musical
    Noah Brody, Merrily We Roll Along
    Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
    Scott Ellis, Tootsie
    Daniel Fish, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Joel Grey, Fiddler on the Roof

    Outstanding Choreography presented by LaDuca Shoes
    Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
    Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me Kate
    Denis Jones, Tootsie
    Rick and Jeff Kuperman, Alice by Heart
    Lorin Latarro, Twelfth Night
    David Neumann, Hadestown

    Outstanding Music presented by Music Theatre International
    Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    Joe Iconis, Be More Chill
    Peter Mills, The Hello Girls
    Mark Sonnenblick, Midnight at the Never Get
    Shaina Taub, Twelfth Night
    David Yazbek, Tootsie

    Outstanding Lyrics presented by Music Theatre International
    Chad Beguelin, The Prom
    Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    Joe Iconis, Be More Chill
    Peter Mills, The Hello Girls
    David Yazbek, Tootsie

    Outstanding Book of a Musical presented by Music Theatre International
    Scott Brown and Anthony King, Beetlejuice
    Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    Robert Horn, Tootsie
    Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, The Prom
    Dominique Morisseau, Ain’t Too Proud

    Outstanding Orchestrations
    Larry Blank, Fiddler on the Roof
    Simon Hale, Girl from the North Country
    Daniel Kluger, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Charlie Rosen, Be More Chill
    Daryl Waters, The Cher Show

    Outstanding Music in a Play
    Paul Castles and Jongbin Jung, Wild Goose Dreams
    Justin Ellington, Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie
    Justin Ellington, The House That Will Not Stand
    Nick Powell, The Lehman Trilogy
    Jason Michael Webb and Fitz Patton, Choir Boy

    Outstanding Set Design of a Play
    Miriam Buether, The Jungle
    Es Devlin, Girls & Boys
    Maruti Evans, The Peculiar Patriot
    Mimi Lien, Fairview
    Matt Saunders, “Daddy”

    Outstanding Set Design for a Musical presented by Hudson Scenic Studio
    Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
    Laura Jellinek, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Laura Jellinek, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    David Korins, Beetlejuice
    Rae Smith, Girl from the North Country

    Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
    Dede M. Ayite, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
    Dede M. Ayite, If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka
    Ásta Bennie Hostetter, Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie
    Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
    Nicole Slaven, Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts

    Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
    Michael Krass, Hadestown
    William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
    William Ivey Long, Tootsie
    Bob Mackie, The Cher Show
    Bobby Frederick Tilly II, Be More Chill
    Paloma Young, Alice by Heart

    Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
    Amith Chandrashaker, Fairview
    Jiyoun Chang, Slave Play
    Jon Clark, The Jungle
    Simon Cleveland, Spaceman
    Yi Zhao, The House That Will Not Stand
    Amith Chandrashaker, Boesman and Lena

    Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical presented by Production Resource Group
    Adam Honoré, Carmen Jones
    Bradley King, Hadestown
    Jamie Roderick, Midnight at the Never Get
    Barbara Samuels, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
    Scott Zielinski, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    Outstanding Projection Design
    Peter England, King Kong
    Katherine Freer, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
    Luke Halls, The Lehman Trilogy
    Alex Basco Koch, Be More Chill
    Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice
    Joshua Thorson, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
    Tyler Kieffer, Plano
    Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
    Nick Powell, The Ferryman
    Jane Shaw, I Was Most Alive With You
    Mikaal Sulaiman, Fairview

    Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
    Simon Baker, Girl from the North Country
    Drew Levy, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Brian Ronan, Tootsie
    Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown
    Mikaal Sulaiman, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future

    Outstanding Wig and Hair Design
    Paul Huntley, Tootsie
    Cookie Jordan, Eddie and Dave
    Charles G. LaPointe, Beetlejuice
    Charles G. LaPointe, The Cher Show
    Campbell Young Associates, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

    Outstanding Solo Performance
    Mike Birbiglia, The New One
    Carey Mulligan, Girls & Boys
    Liza Jessie Peterson, The Peculiar Patriot, National Black Theatre/Hi-Arts
    Erin Treadway, Spaceman, Loading Dock Theatre
    Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag