Gentleman’s Guide wins big at Drama Desk Awards

 Jefferson Mays as Henry D'Ysquith, Jennifer Smith, and Bryce Pinkham as Monty Navarro in a scene from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Walter Kerr Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Jefferson Mays, Jennifer Smith and Bryce Pinkham in the award-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the Walter Kerr Theatre, New York. Picture: Joan Marcus

Persistence is paying off for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The Broadway musical, which has already garnered ten Tony Award nominations (the Tony winners will be announced on 8 June), has now added seven Drama Desk Awards to its laurels. The show opened in the fall and had been struggling with weak ticket sales for months, but apparently valiant producers kept it going; then, the announcement of the Tony nominations ignited a spike in the box office. Now, with the Drama Desk acclamation, including its win as Outstanding Musical of the 2013-14 season, adding to the buzz right before Tony Award time, things may perk up more. Let’s hope so. It’s a deserving show.

In addition to the top musical nod, Gentleman’s Guide also picked up Drama Desk Awards for its director Darko Tresnjak, its book by Robert L. Freedman, its lyrics by Freedman and Steven Lutvak, and projection design by Aaron Rhyme. Among its cast members, Jefferson Mays was named Outstanding Actor in a Musical and Lauren Worsham named as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.

Both those performer contests, however, ended in a tie. Mays shared the actor award with Neil Patrick Harris of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was also cited as Outstanding Revival of a Musical, while Worsham shared the featured actress prize with Anika Larsen of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

The award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical went to Jesse Mueller, playing the title role in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and the trophy for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical was won by James Monroe Iglehart, the rambunctious genie of Aladdin. Beautiful also won for Brian Ronan’s sound design.

Other awards in the musical category went to After Midnight as outstanding revue and for its choreography by Warren Carlyle. Composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown picked up two awards for his music and orchestrations for the now-closed The Bridges of Madison County. Rocky won for Christopher Akerlind’s lighting and Christopher Barreca’s sound design. Costume designer William Ivey Long was a winner for his contribution to Bullets Over Broadway.

It should also be noted that Audra McDonald won as Outstanding Actress in a Play for her performance in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Although the performer sings one song after another in her portrayal of Billie Holiday, the show was determined not to be a musical. The same perplexing decision has been made by the powers-that-be at the Tony Awards.

The Drama Desk Awards marked the 59th year of this event. It’s an organisation of theatre journalists, critics and commentators, and it likes to boast that its purview covers all New York theatre without classification – Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Although all the musical awards went to Broadway, there were nominations for various Off-Broadway offerings, especially Fun Home, the widely acclaimed musical that has been picking up impressive awards in other competitions.

Ron Cohen

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