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Stereophonic and Dead Outlaw Win Top NYDCC Awards

By: David Sheward

March 14, 2024: Stereophonic and Dead Outlaw were named Best Play and Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle during its 88th annual meeting on May 13 to chose the top productions of the season. The awards, which will be presented during a private ceremony on Tuesday, May 21, include a cash prize of $2,500 for best play, made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation.

“Dead Outlaw” was voted Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle Credit: Matthew Murphy

By: David Sheward

March 14, 2024: Stereophonic and Dead Outlaw were named Best Play and Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle during its 88th annual meeting on May 13 to chose the top productions of the season. The awards, which will be presented during a private ceremony on Tuesday, May 21, include a cash prize of $2,500 for best play, made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation.

A joint special citation was awarded to the revivals of Merrily We Roll Along and Purlie Victorious. A joint special citation was also awarded to married actors Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders for lifetime achievement; Ms. Plunkett appeared this season in The Notebook and Deep Blue Sound, Mr. Sanders in Primary Trust and Purlie Victorious. They also appeared in Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck Panorama cycle of plays at the Public Theater and on Zoom during the COVID pandemic. A third special citation was awarded to writer-composer Heather Christian, whose Terce: A Practical Breviary premiered this season.

Jay O. Sanders and Maryann Plunkett seen here in What Happened: The Michaels Abroad will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Credit: Jason Ardizzone-West

Stereophonic, written by David Adjmi and directed by Daniel Aukin, had its world premiere on October 26, 2023, at Playwrights Horizons; it closed December 17, 2023. The play opened at Broadway’s John Golden Theatre on April 19, 2024, where it currently runs.

Dead Outlaw, music and lyrics by David Yazbek and Erik Della Penna and book by Itamar Moses, directed by David Cromer, received its world premiere at the Minetta Lane Theatre on March 10, 2024; it closed on April 14, 2024. 

Stereophonic won Best Play on the first ballot of voting with a clear majority of 11 votes. Primary Trust won 5. The Comeuppance, Infinite Life, Jonah, Sally and Tom, and Oh, Mary! received one vote each. 

Having voted an American play as best of the season, the group then had the option of giving a Best Foreign Play award. There was not enough support for any candidate, and the Circle voted not to give a Best Foreign Play Award this season.

On the first ballot for Best Musical, Dead Outlaw received 8 votes, Illinoise 4, Days of Wine and Roses and Suffs 3 each, Terce 2 and The Outsiders 1. Under the Circle’s by-laws, this was not enough of a clear majority to win. After voting on the second ballot to award a Best Musical prize, the group then went to a weighted ballot with the critics listing their top three choices. On this third ballot Dead Outlaw was the clear winner with 37 votes. Suffs followed with 21, Days of Wine and Roses with 17, Illinoise with 14, Terce with 8, Buena Vista Social Club and Water for Elephants with 5 each, The Outsiders with 4, Hell’s Kitchen and Teeth with 3 each, Gardens of Anuncia 2, and Here We Are and The Connector 1 apiece.

The New York Drama Critics’ Circle comprises 21 drama critics from daily newspapers, magazines, wire services and websites based in the New York metropolitan area. The New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, which has been awarded every year since 1936 to the best new play of the season (with optional awards for foreign or American plays, musicals and special achievements), is the nation’s second-oldest playwriting award, after the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Adam Feldman, theater critic and editor for Time Out New York, has served as president of the NYDCC since 2005. Joe Dziemianowicz serves as vice president; Zachary Stewart is treasurer.

In addition to Feldman, Dziemianowicz and Stewart, the members of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle are David Barbour, David Cote, Vinson Cunningham, Greg Evans, David Finkle, Elysa Gardner, Robert Hofler, Sara Holdren, Charles Isherwood, Chris Jones, Soraya Nadia McDonald, Jackson McHenry, Johnny Oleksinski, Frank Scheck, Helen Shaw, David Sheward, Elisabeth Vincentelli and Matt Windman. Emeritus members include Melissa Rose Bernardo, Christopher Kelly, Brian Scott Lipton, David Rooney, Michael Sommers, Marilyn Stasio, Steven Suskin and Linda Winer. Fifteen voting members were present and six voted by proxy.