Everything in its time! The Tonys, the Oscars for Broadway theater, marks the end of an awards season as rigorous and varied as that for film, although one noteworthy difference is the absence of red carpet couture commentary; somebody should have been reporting on presenter Jessica Chastain's glittery, lacy number. From the bleachers of my bedroom, she looked great as did Nina Arianda in strapless, Tony winner for her performance in Venus in Fur, excitedly telling Christopher Plummer, "You were my first crush, sir."
For this theater observer, the season began with The Lucille Lortel Awards for off-Broadway. Take note: The big winners for many of the Tonys went to plays that began their journey in smaller theaters, off "the great white way": Once, Clybourne Park and Other Desert Cities are examples, as well as Peter and the Starcatcher. Mario Cantone was the Lortel's camp, hilarious host, with presenters Hugh Dancy, Christian Borle and Anna Chlumsky, among them, and music. Laura Benanti, for example, sang before awarding Richard Frankel a Lifetime Achievement Award. Unlike the Tonys, the show was not televised.
Nor were last week's Drama Desk Awards, presented for all plays, mixing Broadway with off and off off. It's good to see good work honored equally; for example, Tribes was awarded for Best Play, and Kim Martin-Cotton was nominated for Best Actress for the Pearl Theater's revival of Moon for the Misbegotten. Tracie Bennett (End of the Rainbow) won. These awards are not harbingers of what's to come for Tonys. Still, honored by both: James Corden (One Man, Two Guvs), Audra McDonald (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess), Michael McGrath and Judy Kaye (Nice Work if You Can Get It). Many of these overlapped with awards given by The Drama League.
When they get their statues and say how much they love being part of the theater community, believe them. The love is real, the people genuinely grounded by the work. At the Lucille Lortel Awards, a tall, dark and handsome young man introduced himself as Adam. On a hunch, I asked if he was one of the nominated actors. Yes, and he won the award for his performance in the Roundabout revival of Look Back in Anger. His in-person look was so different from his on-stage look -- and television look -- that I did not even get that he was the much praised actor Adam Driver, the boyfriend from the HBO series Girls. After he told me he's from a conservative Midwest family, I wondered how they are handling his acting career: "It's okay now because they figured out I can make a living."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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