Drama Desk Awards Honor Norman Conquests and Billy Despite Controversy During Voting Process

The 54th Annual Drama Desk Awards, which recognize the best of New York theater both on and off Broadway, were held tonight at LaGuardia Concert Hall in a ceremony hosted by Harvey Fierstein. Not surprisingly, Billy Elliot took the most honors, nabbing all 10 of the awards that it was nominated for, including Outstanding Musical, Director of a Musical, Choreography, Book, and the Best Music award for its composer, Elton John.

The Norman Conquests conquered the Outstanding Revival of a Play category, Hair took Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ruined got Outstanding Play. Special Outstanding Ensemble Performance awards were given to the casts of The Norman Conquests and The Cripple of Inishmaan. The Drama Desks are sometimes thought of as an early indicator of how the Tony Awards might go (much like the Golden Globes are to the Oscars), but this year there were some pretty significant differences between the two. The Drama Desk's Outstanding Play winner, Ruined, for instance, isn't even eligible for a Tony because it is an Off-Broadway production and the Tonys only recognize Broadway shows. Meanwhile Next To Normal, a major Tony contender for Best Musical and other awards, wasn't eligible for a Drama Desk this year because it had already been eligible last season, when it appeared in a high profile Off-Broadway production at Second Stage Theatre.