Drama Desk Award

Drama Desk Awards
Awarded for Excellence in New York theatre
Country United States
Presented by Drama Desk
First awarded 1955
Official website DramaDesk.org

The Drama Desk Awards are presented annually by The Drama Desk Organisation, and were first awarded in 1955 to recognize excellence in New York theatre productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway productions were excluded until the 1968–69 award season.[1][2] The awards are considered a significant American theatre distinction.[3]


The Drama Desk organization was formed in 1949 by a group of New York theater critics, editors, reporters and publishers, in order to make the public aware of the vital issues concerning the theatrical industry. They debuted the presentations of the Vernon Rice Awards. The name honors the New York Post critic Vernon Rice, who had pioneered Off-Broadway coverage in the New York press. The name was changed for the 1963–1964 awards season to the Drama Desk Awards.[1][4][5]

In 1974, the Drama Desk became incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. In 1975, the Drama announcement of winners included the nominees as well.[4][6]

The Drama Desk has more than 100 members, including theatre critics, reporters and editors who cover New York theater and vote on the awards. Membership consists of two categories: Active (voting) membership and Participating Membership.[7]

All of the Drama Desk officers and Nominating Committee members perform their various services for the organization on a voluntary basis. The Nominating Committee generally meets twice a month to discuss the many eligible shows members are responsible for seeing. They then nominate the productions on which the entire membership will vote. What sets the organization apart is that the awards are voted on "by media people only without any vested interests in the results", according to the organization.

Previous winners include Bernadette Peters,[8] Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among many others.

Over the last 36 years, the Drama Desk Awards have contributed to the ongoing success of major stars, playwrights and designers, while also identifying newcomers. The Drama Desk was the first New York theater organization to give awards to talents such as Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, and George C. Scott. Plays like Driving Miss Daisy, Other People's Money, Steel Magnolias, and The Boys in the Band built momentum with the help of Drama Desk wins.

In 2010 William Wolf was announced as the President of Drama Desk, before being succeeded by Isa Goldberg in 2011.[9] The current (2015) managing executive producer of the Drama Desk Awards is Gretchen Shugart, and the president of the Drama Desk is Charles Wright.[10] David Barbour is chairperson of the nominating committee.[7]

In keeping with its original mission, the organization sponsors guest panel luncheons with theater professionals. Panels address topics of current interest: covering the season on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway, with the aim of prompting informative and stimulating discussion.[4]


Season Nominations Announced Date Host(s) Awards ceremony Location Host(s) Ref
2007–08 April 28, 2008 Bebe Neuwirth and Len Cariou May 18, 2008 LaGuardia Concert Hall Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff and Larry Pressgrove [11]
2008–09 April 27, 2009 Jim Dale and Faith Prince May 17, 2009 LaGuardia Concert Hall Harvey Fierstein [12]
2009–10 May 3, 2010 N/A May 23, 2010 LaGuardia Concert Hall Patti LuPone [13]
2010–11 April 29, 2011 Audra McDonald and Liev Schreiber May 23, 2011 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City Harvey Fierstein [14]
2011–12 April 27, 2012 Donna Murphy and Brian d'Arcy James June 3, 2012 The Town Hall, New York City Brooke Shields and Brian d'Arcy James [15]
2012–13 April 29, 2013 Linda Lavin and John Lloyd Young May 19, 2013 The Town Hall, New York City [16]
2013–14 April 25, 2014 Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Fran Drescher June 1, 2014 The Town Hall, New York City Laura Benanti [17]
2014–15 April 23, 2015 Judith Light and Jessie Mueller May 31, 2015 The Town Hall, New York City Laura Benanti [18]
2015–16 April 28, 2016 Matthew Morrison and Vanessa Williams June 5, 2016 The Town Hall, New York City Michael Urie [19]

Award categories

Performance categories
Show and technical categories
Special awards
Retired awards

See also

For other theatre awards, see


  1. 1 2 Calta, Louis. "Jones Is Named For Top Award By Drama Desk", The New York Times, July 2, 1969, p.34
  2. McKinley, Jesse. " Modern Millie Leads Drama Desk Awards" The New York Times, May 20, 2002. Retrieved June 8, 2009
  3. "Baylor's Traveling Lady Production Receives Drama Desk Nomination", Baylor University, April 28, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2009
  4. 1 2 3 "A Brief History Of The Drama Desk Awards". DramaDesk. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  5. Zolotow, Sam. "Critics Hail Off Broadway Work: Elmer [sic] Rice Awards Are Presented by Drama Desk", The New York Times, May 19, 1964, p.42
  6. Riedel, Michael. "Backstage brouhaha at the Drama Desk Awards", Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2009
  7. 1 2 "Nominating Committee & Current Members". Drama Desk. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  8. "Bernadette Peters Drama Desk Awards and Nominations" dramadesk.org, accessed May 19, 2013
  9. Gans, Andrew. "Isa Goldberg Succeeds William Wolf As Drama Desk President; Awards Set for May 2011". playbill.com, November 22, 2010
  10. " 'The Last Ship', 'It Shoulda Been You', and More Will Perform at 2015 Drama Desk Awards" theatermania.com, May 29, 2015
  11. Bacalzo, Dan. " Title of Show Cast to Host 2008 Drama Desk Awarda" theatermania.com, April 22, 2008
  12. Gans, Andrew. "Harvey Fierstein to Host Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, March 25, 2009
  13. Gans, Andrew."Red, Memphis, Bridge, Fences and La Cage Win Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, May 23, 2010
  14. BBW News Desk. "2011 Drama Desk Award Winners Announced!" BroadwayWorld.com, May 23, 2011
  15. Gans, Andrew. "'Once', 'Tribes', 'Follies', 'Salesman', Audra McDonald, Danny Burstein and More Are Drama Desk Winners" playbill.com, June 3, 2012
  16. Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew. Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, Pippin, Matilda, Vanya and Sonia Win Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, May 19, 2013
  17. Gans, Andrew."Winners of 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' and 'All the Way' Win Top Prizes", playbill.com, June 1, 2014
  18. Gans, Andrew and Gioia, Michael. "Drama Desk Award Winners Announced; 'Hamilton' Wins Seven Awards", playbill.com, May 31, 2015
  19. Gans, Andrew. "Vanessa Williams and Matthew Morrison Announce Drama Desk Nominations Today", playbill.com, April 28, 2016

External links

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