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Ten 2018 Drama Desk Nominations You Should Pay Attention To

Ten 2018 Drama Desk Nominations You Should Pay Attention To

by Sam Maher

There’s a whiplash-inducing amount of awards during the NYC theater season, which is every Spring. You’ve got Off-Broadway’s vastly underrated Lortel Awards, the Obies, the Drama League Awards, the OBA Awards, the OCCs, and then the Drama Desk Awards leading up to the Tonys. The 2018 Tony Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, May 1 and the Drama Desk nominations are often a forecast of what to expect.

However, there’s plenty of Off-Broadway (and beyond) shows in Drama Desk categories as they celebrate excellence in *all* of NYC theater...which is especially remarkable this year, as the official 2018 Broadway season is generally agreed upon to be quite lackluster. That being said, there are indeed some gems on Broadway this year...and it's great to see the Drama Desks recognizing them.

Ten 2018 Drama Desk Nominations You Should Pay Attention To:

1. Jocelyn Bioh. She was nominated as both a playwright AND as actress! She wrote the superb School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play , which is up for Outstanding Play and she was nominated for her performance in Signature Theatre's In The Blood. NYC theater thrives on artists like Jocelyn Bioh, so it's really exciting to see her celebrated from all angles. Oh, and the entire cast of School Girls was awarded a special Drama Desk Ensemble Award for their portrayals. Good thing it's coming back to NYC this October! Don't sleep on tickets this time.

The cast of Jocelyn Bioh's  School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play.  Photo: Joan Marcus

The cast of Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play. Photo: Joan Marcus

2. Ethan Slater. Ethan is most certainly giving one of the best 55 performances of the season, if not THE best, as our hero in SpongeBob SquarePants...so it's very alarming that the Drama League snubbed him by not including him as one of their 55 Distinguished Performance nominations. Doesn't matter, though, because the Drama Desks have him in the Outstanding Actor in a Musical category, and the show itself got 11 nominations total, including a nomination for director Tina Landau. Her direction of SpongeBob will make you full-on believe in magic again, so you can imagine we say YeeeesssssBroadway to Tina's Drama Desk nomination.

Ethan Slater as  SpongeBob SquarePants . Photo: Joan Marcus

Ethan Slater as SpongeBob SquarePants. Photo: Joan Marcus

3. KPOP all over the place. Yas, yas, and more yas to the 7 nominations for this ridiculously good musical (it was #7 in our Top 10 Favorite Theater of 2017 list for a reason!), including Outstanding Director of a Musical for Teddy Bergman. At this point, the show is swimming in so many award nominations that it would be silly for a producer not to pick it up for future life. It was awesome, plain and simple!

Jason Tam in  KPOP . Photo: Ben Arons

Jason Tam in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons

4. Ashley Park. She was nominated twice and there's a world in which she can WIN twice because she was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for KPOP and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for Mean Girls! There's a reason we put her in our 2018 40 under 40!

Ashley Park (brunette, center)  in  Mean Girls . Photo: Joan Marcus

Ashley Park (brunette, center)  in Mean Girls. Photo: Joan Marcus

5. Miles For Mary. Okay, it's only April...but Miles For Mary is my favorite show of the year so far (I saw SpongeBob last year!). This hilarious Off-Broadway knockout got a nomination for director Lila Neugebauer as well as for Outstanding Play. This show was straight up theatrical electricity and DEFINITELY needs a future life. Ahem, Yes...Broadway?

Miles For Mary.  Photo: The Mad Ones

Miles For Mary. Photo: The Mad Ones

6. Lesli Margherita. I Escaped To Lesli Margheritaville with her because, well, she's just the best! This future sitcom star (she's in LA shooting a pilot as I type!) was nominated for her performance as Cindy Lou Who In Who’s Holiday, for which she was also nominated for a Lortel. Lesson? Cast Lesli Margherita in everything.

 

7. Kenita R. Miller. Her performance in Once On This Island will invigorate your soul and break your heart at the same time. It's great to see that awards committees are paying attention to her. She's definitely a force to be reckoned with!

Kenita R. Miller in  Once On This Island . Photo: Joan Marcus.

Kenita R. Miller in Once On This Island. Photo: Joan Marcus.

8. Miss You Like Hell. Both 40 Under 40 star Gizel Jimenez and co-star Daphne Rubin-Vega were nominated for their performances in this awesome Off-Broadway musical. And both the music and the book were nominated as well. This one runs through May 13 at the Public Theater, so you still have a chance to see it in all it's Drama Desk-nominated glory!

Gizel Jimenez and Daphne Rubin-Vega in  Miss You Like Hell . Photo: Joan Marcus

Gizel Jimenez and Daphne Rubin-Vega in Miss You Like Hell. Photo: Joan Marcus

9. Juan Castano. Sometimes, there are performers rocking it so hard that you have to skip any sort of nominations and give them a special award. Juan will be awarded the Sam Norkin Award because his "varied performances this season in Oedipus El ReyA Parallelogram, and Transfers not only make a complex statement about American life but also indicate great things to come for this talented performer." I agree...and you will, too, when you see him in action in Transfers, which plays through May 20 at MCC Theater.

Juan Castano in  Transfers . Photo: Joan Marcus

Juan Castano in Transfers. Photo: Joan Marcus

10. James McArdle. Everyone is buzzing about Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane's performances in Angels in America, and deservedly so, but the sleeper hit performance of the season is James McArdle's deliriously good performance of Louis. Awards categories involving multiple Angels nominations will be close calls as the show excels in just about every single way possible. It's awesome, though, to see James get some recognition for his EXTREMELY good performance just in case the actual awards end up in this hands of his co-stars.

James McArdle in  Angels in America.  Photo: Brinkoff & Mögenburg

James McArdle in Angels in America. Photo: Brinkoff & Mögenburg

Michael Urie will host the 2018 Drama Desk Awards for the third year in a row on June 3 (which is the Sunday before the Tony Awards).

March 26: Broadway Sings Rihanna

March 26: Broadway Sings Rihanna

5 Reasons to Check Out BROADWAY SINGS RIHANNA March 26 at Highline Ballroom

1. The Ladies. This is the first Broadway Sings concert to feature an all-female lineup, and isn’t it about time? From the current political climate to the #TimesUp movement finally giving women their due, it seems like the perfect moment to feature 15 of the best female voices in NYC. Some perfomers include Dear Evan Hansen standout Kristolyn Lloyd, Lilli Cooper from The Spongebob Musical, Hamilton’s current star Lexi Lawson, and Wicked’s green witch, Jessica Vosk. Pentatonix's Kirstin Maldonado (currently starring in Kinky Boots) will also be performing! 

 2. The Musical Styles. The Broadway Sings series does not directly copy the recorded versions of the songs of the artists being honored, separating this series from many similar shows in NYC. While the lyrics and most melodies remain, the audience is given a chance to hear the song in a completely different light, highlighting the strengths of the particular Broadway performers. Musical styles showcased in the upcoming Rihanna concert range from big band, swing, and jazz to R&B, rock, and country!

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 3. The Orchestra. As with all previous Broadway Sings shows, the orchestra is always living. Each song selection is specifically and meticulously orchestrated by music director Joshua Stephen Kartes for 14-pieces...including four glorious backup singers!

4. Rihanna. Not only is her music inherently theatrical, she writes in a myriad of different styles: pop, R&B, reggae, dubstep, hip hop, EDM, and even country.

5. The Highline Ballroom. Nestled right beneath the beautiful High Line, the venue is a hip, spacious space boasting pristine production quality and a state-of-the-art sound and light system. You can even come early for a delicious dinner on the main floor or balcony level. Broadway Sings also works with the venue to make the series affordable. That means there are $20 student tickets at the door.

Broadway Sings Rihanna is March 26 at the Highline Ballroom.

Groundhog Day Reunion at 54 Below

Groundhog Day Reunion at 54 Below

by Olivia Lusk

Andy Karl is teaming up with the rest of the original Broadway cast members of the recently closed musical Groundhog Day for a reunion concert on February 2nd (ahem...) at Feinstein's/54 Below, and we couldn’t be more excited! Aviva Sokolow, creator of the Humans of Broadway Instagram account, is producing the event, which is called Humans of Punxsutawney: A Groundhog Day Reunion.

There will be an auction of unique Groundhog Day items at the concert and ticket sales and the money raised through the auction will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in honor of the Tomorrow There Will Be Sun campaign. Can't make the show, but still want to donate? Click here.

Photo: Joan Marcus

Tickets are currently sold out (boooo), but you can call Feinstein's/54 Below at 646-476-3551 to be put on a waitlist. This show is going to be AMAZING. You’ll relive your mistake every day if you don’t get to see it!

Humans of Punxsutawney: A Groundhog Day Reunion will be at Feinstein’s/54 Below on February 2 at 11:30 p.m.

Check Out Barrington Stage Company's Upcoming 2018 Season

Check Out Barrington Stage Company's Upcoming 2018 Season

Aaron Tveit and the ensemble of 2017's Company. Photo: Daniel Rader

by Olivia Lusk

Amazing theater outside of NYC but with Broadway-caliber productions? Yes please! Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA announced their 2018 season, and it sounds dope AF! Barrington Stage Company is only 2 and 1/2 hours from NYC and has hosted some seriously amazing productions in the past, including the world premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee before it moved to Broadway in 2004! 

After last year's smash production of Company starring the dreamy Aaron Tveit, their 2018 season is focused on amplifying women’s stories and includes a really cool mix of classics and new shows. They’re going to host world premieres of works like The Chinese Lady, which is a co-production with Ma-Yi Theater Company (Ma-Yi did KPOP also which was #7 in YesBroadway’s Top 10 Favorite Theater of 2017) and the first production of A Doll's House, Part 2 since it closed on Broadway in September. They've also got a new musical by William Finn! Sprinkle in some classics like West Side Story and The Glass Menagerie and you've got a theater company worth the train ride from NYC.

Season passes are available now with single tickets going on sale March 6.

Billy And The Killers

Billy And The Killers

Billy And The Killers is a sexy new rock musical about a teenager who is accused of killing his girlfriend not far from the trailer park where he lives. Our hero Billy is reminiscent of Hedwig and the Angry Inch's Tommy Gnosis, with this show kinda feeling like his backstory. And, similar to Hedwig, it feels more like a rock concert than musical theater...in a good way!

The gritty characters in this show match the themes of the show, both oozing with testosterone. This is musical theater for fans of Sons of Anarchy -- there's even a real vintage motorcycle on the stage! This is all wildly refreshing, considering musical theater doesn't usually tell the stories of people who live in double wide trailers and work in greasy garages while they're out on parole. 

Both Sydney Shepherd and her co-star Adrian Blake Enscoe are swoonworthy young dreamboats and Peter Stopchinski's loud rock music sounds really good in the small basement black box theater at HERE.

Photos: Shira Friedman

Grab a Coors Light, throw on your Carhartt jacket, and hop on your hog to head downtown to rock out to Billy and the Killers. Well, don't drink and drive...wait until you get to the theater to drink the Coors Light!

Runs through November 18.

Because of the "ripped from the headlines" theme of the show, we stopped into a rehearsal a few weeks ago and asked the cast and creative team a very fundamental question: 

Do you believe everything you read in the news?

Sleep No More Fans: Halloween Dance Party At The McKittrick

Sleep No More Fans: Halloween Dance Party At The McKittrick

Dig Sleep No More and don't have plans for Halloween? Check out the McKittrick Hotel's sexy Halloween dance party that involves performances and exclusive access to rooms that even Sleep No More audience members don't get to see! Check out pictures from this weekend's celebrations of The McKittrick Masquerade: Inferno and the promo trailer below to get a sense of what it will be like.

Costumes with a dark theme are encouraged, including sorcerer, enchanter, vampire, zombie, mummy, beast, fiend, monster, witch or raven. You get the drift!

Starts at 9:15pm on October 31.

Photos: Red Roses, Green Gold

Photos: Red Roses, Green Gold

Check out these photos by Chad Batka from Red Roses, Green Gold, the new Off-Broadway musical featuring tons of really great sounding #GratefulDead music.

Meet the cast and hear music from the show in the video below.

Pro Tip: Check out the "Stand Up & Boogie Down" seating available through the ticket link below. In these seats, you are encouraged to stand up and dance (and even sing along) concert-style.

Red Roses, Green Gold runs through February 18.

Play Fuck Marry Kill With The Cast of "Fuck Marry Kill"

Play Fuck Marry Kill With The Cast of "Fuck Marry Kill"

Fuck Marry Kill is a new Off-Broadway play about super rich Connecticut teenagers spinning wildly out of control during prom season. The stakes are high as backstabbing, secret spilling, and epic teenage drama mixes with hints of drama-heavy Jacobean classical theater. 

We stopped by rehearsal to play some Fuck Marry Kill with the cast, director, and playwright. Here's what went down:

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Alex breaux

FMK: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig

"Ok, this is gonna get controversial. I have a real crush on Kristen Wiig, but crushes can burn out. I would marry Tina Fey, I would fuck Kristen Wiig, and I would kill Leslie Schnope (sic)...I mean, Amy Poehler."

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Jacob presson

FMK: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber

"I'd fuck the shit out of Stephen Sondheim, I'd marry the fuck out of Lin-Manuel, and it's a process of elimination, so kill Andrew." 

RACHEL B. JOYCE

FMK: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

"Fuck all of them! (laughs)...Okay, marry George Clooney. (Hate)fuck Matt Damon, and then kill Ben Affleck."

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Lance Lemon

FMK: Guitar, Keyboard, Drums

Fuck the drums, marry the keyboard, and kill the guitar. The keyboard is just a smooth sexy kind of item. The drums is like bang, bang, bang...like fucking! 

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Riley SUTER

FMK: Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine

"I would definitely marry Jasmine, oh wait, the logistics of fucking Ariel...so maybe I marry Ariel and I fuck Jasmine and I'm sorry, I kill Belle...but that's because she's into the Beast and I'm not really that manly of a guy so I don't think I'd be her type."

ISMENIA MENDES

FMK: Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry

"Katy Perry's weird right now...I don't know what's going on with her. Imma have to say kill Miley Cyrus, fuck Katy Perry, marry Taylor Swift. Taylor'd take care of me, I think it would work out."

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SASH BISCHOFF

(Director)

FMK: Barbra Streisand, Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing

"Fuck Barbra Streisand because she's a baller. Angela Lansbury is just solid, so I'd want to be with her until the end. And, so Carol Channing just bites the dust." 

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RACHEL FRANCO

FMK: Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, Raisin Bran

"Obviously, kill Fruity Pebbles cause I don't like fake fruity cereal. Fuck Lucky Charms, obviously...they're magically delicious and that little leprechaun's a little cutie anyway, and marry Raisin Bran because that seems like a boring stable marriage thing."

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Brian Miskell

FMK: Keys, Wallet, Phone

"Marry keys, fuck phone, kill wallet. I think that speaks for itself!"

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Josh Salt

FMK: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who

"Fuck The Rolling Stones, marry The Beatles, sorry The Who, you're out. Done-zo."

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CORY ASINOFSKY

FMK: Books, TV, Music

"This is kind of impossible. Imma have to fuck music, yeah, obviously. I'm going to marry books, and Imma have to kill you tv, sorry. You're ruining the world!" 

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LILLY ENGLERT

FMK: Hamilton, West Side Story, Hair

"I would kill West Side Story, I'd fuck Hair and marry Hamilton. Hamilton is the best show I've ever seen, so why wouldn't you marry the best thing you've ever witnessed? Hair is fun and exciting and upbeat."

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JAMES PRESSON

 

(Playwright)

FMK: Bro, Bruh, Brah

"Kill brah, I hate California. Marry bro, because I've been saying it my entire life and I'm also a big fan of Alex Breaux, and fuck bruh because I'm intrigued." 

Fuck Marry Kill runs October 27 - November 12.

Arden/Everywhere Is A Reimagined As You Like It

Arden/Everywhere Is A Reimagined As You Like It

Arden/Everywhere Is A Reimagined As You Like It

A really cool reimagining of As You Like It is playing at Baruch College's Performing Arts Center. It's called Arden/Everywhere and it features professional actors alongside people from NYC's refugee and immigrant communities in its cast. With 65 million displaced people on our planet right now, Arden/Everywhere challenges you to see Shakespeare's centuries-old text through the lens of what it means to call a place "home" in 2017.

As a cool bonus to celebrate the international spirit of the production, the lobby of the theater includes a "portal" (similar to a photo booth) where you can full body live chat with people in other countries. This opens up a dialogue about refugees and immigration before the show even begins!

Check out pictures from the show by Russell Rowland.

Runs until October 28.