Oslo and The Band’s Visit, which won the big awards at off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Awards Sunday night, pulled off the same feat this evening as the New York Drama Critics Circle announced its awards for the 2016-17 season.
Three special citations also were approved: To Taylor Mac, an actor, singer-songwriter and performance artist whose day-long marathon A 24-Decade History of Popular Music was considered by many to have been one of the most audacious and compelling highlights of the season; to director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and the ensemble cast of Jitney, which was the last of August Wilson’s celebrated play cycle about African-American life in each decade of the past century to finally be seen on Broadway; and to Paula Vogel for career achievement as a playwright and mentor; a Pulitzer Prize winner for How I Learned To Drive, Vogel’s play Indecent is currently running on Broadway after an initial run at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theatre Company.
Oslo, which has multiple Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, and concerns the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, was voted Best Play. Best Musical was The Band’s Visit, one of the most acclaimed musicals of last season, which revolved around an Egyptian military band’s unexpected overnight stay at a remote Israeli town. The intimate, one-act show was presented by the Atlantic Theatre Company. A transfer to Broadway is reputed to be in the offing.
The win for best play required three ballots, with the most votes almost equally divided on the first two ballots between J.T. Rogers’ Oslo, a Lincoln Center Theater production, and Lynn Nottage’s Tony-nominated Sweat, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play, concerning workers in a dying Western Pennsylvania factory, was first presented in New York at the Public Theater (following productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Washington’s Arena Stage). On the third vote, Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, running on Broadway, came in second, just edging out Sweat, while Oslo retained the majority lead for the win.
After initial discussion and an inconclusive first vote, the critics decided not to award a prize for Best Foreign Play, which is an option when an American play wins the top prize.
The 82nd annual drama critics circle awards will be presented May 18 at a private cocktail reception.