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65th Annual Drama Desk Awards Take Place May 31

The 65th annual Drama Desk Awards take place May 31. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the proceedings will not take place at The Town Hall as is tradition; instead, a virtual ceremony hosted by Frank DiLella takes place on NY1 and at DramaDeskAwards.com beginning at 7:30 PM ET.

Because of the March shutdown of New York productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and beyond, the eligibility window for the season was revised to end March 11.

Soft Power, the collaboration between playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori, topped the list with 11 nominations for its New York premiere at the Public Theater last year. In addition to Outstanding Musical, the show’s nominations included nods to both Hwang and Tesori, director Leigh Silverman, and stars Francis Jue (also nominated for Cambodian Rock Band), Conrad Ricamora, and Alyse Alan Louis.

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Cast of Soft Power Joan Marcus

Additional front-runners include two other new musicals that played Off-Broadway: The Wrong Man (receiving nine nominations) and Octet (receiving eight). With plays, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven led the pack, also earning eight nods. Check out the full list of nominations here.

READ: How Theatre Award Ceremonies Are Handling the Coronavirus Shutdown

Special Awards will be given to The Actors Fund, Seth Rudetsky, and James Wesley for their coronavirus relief efforts (particularly their Stars in the House series); The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit; WP Theater and the late Julia Miles; and intimacy director Claire Warden. Additionally, the ceremony will posthumously honor Harold Prince as the inaugural recipient of a namesake lifetime achievement distinction.

The evening will feature appearances by Tituss Burgess, James Corden, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Beanie Feldstein, Santino Fontana, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Krakowski, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Ashley Park, Andrew Rannells, Ali Stroker, and Susan Stroman.

Founded in 1955, the Drama Desk Awards honor outstanding achievement by professional theatre artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. The Drama Desk Awards are voted on and bestowed by theatre critics, journalists, editors, publishers, and broadcasters covering theatre.

Sundance Institute Names 8 Works to Be Developed Under Its 2020 Digital Theatre Lab

Sundance Institute has chosen eight genre-crossing works to receive developmental opportunities through its annual Theatre Lab program. In the wake of theatre companies and new play initiatives going digital, the initiative will take place remotely through Sundance’s Collab platform.

The Lab offers artists from the U.S. and/or the Arab region to advance their work with dramaturgs and advisors through intimate group exchanges.

READ: Sundance Launches Free Online Resource Platform

Participants were selected by Interim Director Hibma, along with the program’s staff and a committee consisting of Jesse Cameron Alick, Lisa Peterson, Hana Sharif, Junaid Sarieddeen, and Meiyin Wang. Hibma will collaborate with Guest Artistic Director Leigh Silverman; the creative team also includes dramaturgs Jesse Cameron Alick, Abdullah Al-Kafri, Janice Paran, and Leyla Rabih

The selected projects for 2020 follow.

Cairo Critical Cabaret (Egypt)
Conceived by Adham Hafez
Project by HaRaKa Platform (Mona Gamil, Lamia Gouda, and Adam Kucharski)
Cairo Critical Cabaret uses performance, song, and choreography to stage political chronicles, collective conviviality, and politics of intimacy during crisis by looking at the history of Egyptian cabaret at the turn of the 20th century and its connections to Berlin, Paris, and New York cabaret scenes.

Evidence of Things Not Seen (Lebanon)
By Stephanie Kayal
Music by Abed Kobeissy
Phantom Limb Syndrome is a condition in which a person experiences sensations, whether painful or otherwise, in a limb that does not exist; a false consolation that an amputated limb is still attached. Evidence of Things Not Seen is a dance performance about home, and the sensation of its presence, and its loss.

The Gift (U.S.)
Co-created by Janani Balasubramanian and Dr. Natalie Gosnell
Produced by Andrew Kircher
Composed by Tina-Hanaé Miller
Illustrated by Amy Myers
The Gift is an immersive media experience that merges reading and listening with shared moments of generosity. The accessible theatrical installation animates the research of observational astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Gosnell and re-inscribes outer space as feminist space.

Jordans (U.S.)
By Ife Olujobi
Directed by Whitney White
In a workplace where appearance is everything, a long-suffering receptionist finds herself in personal, professional, and psychic jeopardy when her ruthless boss hires a hip new employee in order to improve the company’s image and “culture.” Suddenly, the two young, black, ambitious social climbers are forced together and torn apart by their race, racism, and otherworldly circumstance.

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Aziza Barnes Joseph Marzullo/WENN

By Aziza Barnes
Directed by Machel Ross
NANA is a play based on Barnes’ paternal lineage and their self-mythologies. Set in the Bronx in the late fifties, NANA explores colorism within a family unit, dysfunctional logics of attempts at loving one’s blackness before it was a trend, the ease of whiteness, and substance abuse as self-medication.

Retreat (Iraq/U.K.)
By Hassan Abdulrazzak
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
Samir, a Muslim Arab and a failed inventor, is contemplating suicide. His Korean-American friend Sophie is egging him on to kill himself. But Ivan, a Cuban-American, is not so sure. Ivan is writing a musical about suicide and thinks there is value in Samir staying alive, at the very least as a source for inspiration. Over the course of the evening, Sophie and Ivan help Samir to decide whether he should stay alive or end his life.

The Storyteller (U.S.)
By K’naan Warsame
The Storyteller is a musical about a young storyteller in Somalia, who tells other people’s stories until his own becomes too large to ignore.

Thurayya (Lebanon)
By Tamara Saade
Directed by Myriam El Hajj
Thurayya follows an 18-year-old woman in Lebanon who gets pregnant with her communist lover of the same age. She decides to undergo an abortion. The play is narrated in a reparative attempt to salvage lost memory fragments related to the abortion and its aftermath.

Sundance has also named seven artists-in-virtual-residence: Mariam Bazeed (Egypt/U.S.), Waleed Elgadi (Sudan/U.K.), Franky Gonzalez (U.S.), Daniel Alexander Jones (U.S.), Mwendie Mbugua (Kenya), José Rivera (U.S.), and Mfoniso Udofia (U.S.).

How to Watch The Magic Show, Stephen Schwartz’s Other Huge ’70s Hit

Wicked is still going strong, and Godspell and Pippin both received top-notch revivals in recent years. Even the short-lived Working received a West End production and a cast album last year. But there’s one Stephen Schwartz score that hasn’t been heard on a New York City stage since its original, Tony-nominated run: The Magic Show.

Part book musical and part showcase for magician Doug Henning (who earned a Tony Award nomination), The Magic Show was a one-act musical with a score by Schwartz, book by Bob Randall, and direction by Grover Dale that opened at the Cort Theatre May 28, 1974, and ran for 1,920 performances. It also boasts some of Schwartz’s songs most beloved by cabaret and concert performers, including “Lion Tamer” and “West End Avenue.”

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In it, Henning is brought in to replace an aging magician at a seedy nightclub, shortly before an agent comes to check out rock ‘n’ roll act Donna and Dina. Henning’s assistant, Cal, is in love with him, but as is usually the case, he doesn’t realize his feelings for her until it’s almost too late.

Built around Henning’s illusions (an initial incarnation of the show, called Spellbound, featured a book by David Cronenberg and music by Howard Shore; only Henning’s illusions remained when the show finally opened on Broadway as The Magic Show), a revival is unlikely. But fans of the show and those who are curious to see one of the major hits of the ‘70s are in luck: A 1983 filmed version of it is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, preserving the performances of Henning and Anita Morris, with Didi Conn as Cal. Sadly, “West End Avenue” and the popular “Solid Silver Platform Shoes” didn’t make the final cut. But you can watch Carol Burnett and Cher duet on the latter above!

Flip through photos of the production below:

Watch Cast of Star Trek Voyager, Including Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, and Ethan Phillips, Reunite on Stars in the House

Stars in the House, the daily live streamed concert series created by Playbill correspondent and SiriusXM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky and producer James Wesley, features a 25th anniversary cast reunion of the 1995–2001 series Star Trek Voyager—including Kate Mulgrew (Equus), Jeri Ryan, Roxann Dawson (A Chorus Line), Robert Beltran, Robert Duncan McNeill (Six Degrees of Separation), Robert Picardo (Tribute), Ethan Phillips (Junk), Tim Russ, and Garret Wang—May 26 at 8 PM. Watch above.

Since March 16, Stars in the House has promoted support for The Actors Fund and its services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Wesley and Rudetsky are recipients of honorary Drama Desk Awards this year, recognizing their efforts to aid the theatre community.

James Wesley and Seth Rudetsky
James Wesley and Seth Rudetsky Joseph Marzullo/WENN

New shows air daily at 2 PM and 8 PM ET, featuring performances by stars of stage and screen, in conversation and song with Rudetsky and Wesley. Streaming direction is by Peter Flynn. Click here to watch previous episodes.

READ: How to Help Unemployed Theatre Industry Professionals During the Coronavirus Shutdown

As the situation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, The Actors Fund will provide services online and via phone. These services include Artists Health Insurance Resource Center, The Career Center, Housing Resources, Addiction & Recovery, HIV/AIDS and Senior Services, Counseling and Emergency Financial Assistance, as well as The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

To make a tax-deductible donation to The Actors Fund visit ActorsFund.org/Donate. Since its launch, Stars in the House has raised $300,000 to benefit The Actors Fund.

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