Spring is a busy time for professional theatre in New York City with many productions launching just before the Tony Award nomination deadline; however, it is important to take a moment and reflect upon the numerous exceptional productions that opened during the 2015 theatre season. On January 1, My Entertainment World announced the 2015 MyTheatre Award nominees for New York, and the votes have been counted.
Don’t miss our 2015 Nominee Interview Series, featuring more than 75 exclusive interviews with our nominees and be sure to check out Awards Headquarters for the full list of this year’s winners, including the MyTV Awards, MyCinema Awards and MyTheatre Awards in Toronto, London and Boston.
Without further ado, the winners are:
No explanation necessary. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical masterpiece has won the hearts and minds of the entire country, theatre fans and non-fans alike, and for good reason. This lyrical history lesson has (fingers crossed) forever altered the Broadway landscape.
What Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing for the Broadway musical, Danai Gurira is simultaneously doing for the Broadway play. Eclipsed, the first Broadway production to feature an all black female cast (the writer and director are also women), explores sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against women during times of war. Gurira’s characters are funny, resilient, and thoughtful even as they endure brutality and oppression, and the work as a whole, both poignant and engrossing, merits serious consideration.
Best Revival (Musical)
Contributing to the diversity of Broadway this season, Deaf West’s gorgeous production of Spring Awakening reinvented a modern musical by combining American Sign Language with contemporary choreography. In this unique staging, deaf actors worked alongside hearing actors to present a universal story of adolescence, sexuality, and self-discovery.
Best Revival (Play)
A View from the Bridge
Ivo van Hove’s stunning production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge packed a visceral punch on a strikingly stark set. Boasting both a talented cast, including Mark Strong who’s powerful performance evoked a sense of terror and wonder, and an exceptional creative team, A View from the Bridge was a must-see in 2015.
Best Actress (Musical)
Renèe Elise Goldsberry in Hamilton
Renèe Elise Goldsberry’s powerhouse vocals, acting talent and presence on stage as the fierce Angelica Schuyler set her apart from her female counterparts in the Hamilton ensemble. Her indomitable performance in the song “Satisfied” alone warrants accolades, but Goldsberry also delights audiences daily as the strong-willed intellectual foil for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “tomcat” Hamilton.
Best Actor (Musical)
Leslie Odom Jr. in Hamilton
He may be the villain in our history books, but Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr is a charming, sympathetic, ambitious young man who is far from evil personified. Odom Jr.’s impassioned performance and sonorous vocals often bring down the house, including during the crowd-pleasing numbers “Wait for It” and “Room Where it Happened” – arguably the best-written numbers in the entire show.
Best Actress (Play)
Helen Mirren in The Audience
Helen Mirren’s celebrated performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience is practically a master class in classic stage acting. This is clearly a role that Ms. Mirren has perfected over time, much to our delight.
Best Actor (Play)
Tim Pigott-Smith in King Charles III
After honoring the Queen, it is only fitting to honor the (hypothetical) King as well. Tim Pigott-Smith crafted a classic Shakespearean tragic hero in King Charles III, transforming a caricature-like pop culture icon into a man with whom the audience could identify and for whom the audience could empathize.
Best Supporting Actor (Musical)
Daveed Diggs in Hamilton
Tackling the roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Diggs seems an unlikely match for either role. Yet, Diggs can spit a verse with such guile, humor, and class that he is an absolutely brilliant choice to portray both men.
Best Supporting Actress (Musical)
Ruthie Ann Miles in The King & I
Ruthie Ann Miles transcends the simplicity of her role and brings a great deal of emotional depth to her performance as Lady Thiang in Lincoln Center’s recent revival of The King and I.
Best Supporting Actor (Play)
Richard Goulding in King Charles III
Goulding’s performance as bad boy Prince Harry in King Charles III resembled the public image of Prince Harry just closely enough that it made him believable as the prince. However, it is Goulding’s sharp comedic ability that made his portrayal of England’s most eligible bachelor noteworthy.
Best Supporting Actress (Play)
Pascale Armand in Eclipsed
While the entire ensemble of Eclipsed performs admirably, Pascale Armand’s portrayal of the pregnant Bessie (who has a charmingly hilarious preoccupation with Bill Clinton) distinguishes her in a cast of exceptional actresses. Armand provides levity in an emotionally heavy show but does so with such authenticity and honesty that the jokes never feel out of place.
Working seamlessly together to create a breathtaking visual and auditory experience, the ensemble of Hamilton is practically perfect. Period.
Best Set Design
From a raised attic dangling high above the floor to a man-made lake covering the entire back of the stage, Beowulf Boritt’s set design for Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Thérèse Raquin was both stunningly complex and beautifully simple.
Best Lighting Design
Utilizing period-inspired candlelight and isolating spotlights to indicate changes in setting and time, Paule Constable’s lighting design for Wolf Hall was befitting of the stark set and dark tone of this exceptional play.
Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography invokes battlefield imagery, modern dance, hip-hop, traditional musical theatre and numerous other dance traditions, and the results are a visual feast.
Christopher Oram’s lavish period dress leaves quite an impression and appropriately reflects both the beauty and the terror of King Henry VIII’s reign.
Most Memorable Broadway Debut
Daveed Diggs in Hamilton
See “Best Supporting Actor (Musical)” then acknowledge that Hamilton is his first time on a Broadway stage.
Most Overrated Productions
David Mamet’s new play China Doll may have been a commercial success thanks to Al Pacino’s involvement in the production, but the play failed on multiple fronts. From the meandering, pointless plot to Pacino’s reliance on teleprompters to recall his lines, China Doll was easily one of the least valuable tickets in town this past season (despite the high price tag).
Play or Musical You Are Most Excited to See in 2016
The Crucible (play)
Saoirse Ronan, Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo and Ciaran Hinds star in Arthur Miller’s historical tale of mass hysteria and religious fervor. In a world where, for example, people frequently embrace a mob mentality through social media, perhaps this is the perfect time to revive The Crucible and challenge audiences to consider this: what dangers arise when anger or fear are permitted to oust rational thinking?