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