The 80th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony took place today, May 16, 2014. The luncheon was held in the Broadway Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. Though the Drama League Awards are not considered to be as high an honor as the Tony Awards, it is definitely an immense distinction to earn a Drama League Award, and they are often thought to point to the direction that the Tony Awards may be leaning. Led by executive director Gabriel Shanks, the Drama League Awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America, having been given since 1922, and formally awarded since 1935. The Tony Awards, on the other hand, were founded in 1947. They are distinguished from all other major awards because they are chosen by audience members, specifically the thousands of individuals who make up the Drama League membership from all around the country.
And now for the winners! The award for Distinguished Production of a Musical was given to A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which is also nominated for the equivalent Tony category, and which has been nominated for the greatest number of Tony Awards: 10. This adds momentum to the Tony campaign for this new musical, whose competitors for the Tony category of Best Musical are Aladdin, After Midnight, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The award for Distinguished Production of a Play was given to All the Way by Robert Schenkkan. Starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson, the play is a historical drama recounting the era of civil rights struggles in the 1960s. The Distinguished Revival of a Musical was chosen to be Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and the Distinguished Revival of Play was determined to be The Glass Menagerie. The Drama League only gives one Distinguished Performance Award, which was awarded to Neil Patrick Harris for his performance in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Furthermore, Barbara Cook was given an award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre. At the age of 86, Cook was last seen on Broadway in 2010 for Sondheim on Sondheim, and she is well known for her roles in such shows as Plain and Fancy, Candide, and The Music Man. In addition, the award for Unique Contribution to the Theatre was given to John Gore of Key Brand Entertainment and Broadway Across America. Gore founded Key Brand Entertainment in 2004, and acquired Broadway Across America in 2008, as well as the e-commerce theatre website Broadway.com. As a theatre producer, Gore’s Broadway credits include Bullets over Broadway, Betrayal, Jerusalem, Passing Strange, One Man Two Guv’nors, The Mountaintop, and many more. Finally, the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing was given to John Tiffany, who directed The Glass Menagerie this season. Of Scottish origin, Tiffany has only three Broadway credits, the first of which was Once, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical and a long-running hit. He also directed Alan Cumming’s one man show Macbeth last year.