'Radio' takes award for American play

Tom Stoppard’s epic trilogy “The Coast of Utopia” and Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s rock musical “Spring Awakening” took top honors in the 72nd annual New York Drama Critics Circle Awards.

Kudos for American play went to “Radio Golf,” making late scribe August Wilson the most-honored playwright in Critics Circle history with eight play awards. Wilson was previously tied with Stephen Sondheim, who has racked up seven nods from the org.

A special citation went to “Journey’s End,” Brit director David Grindley’s revival of R.C. Sherriff’s WWI ensemble drama, which received arguably the best overall reviews of the season but has struggled at the box office.

Both “Utopia,” an ambitious three-play cycle about 19th century Russian intellectuals, and “Spring Awakening,” the teen-angst tuner adapted from German expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind’s 1891 drama, were seen as frontrunners for their respective awards given the strong critical reception for both.

Play award, which comes with a $2,500 prize, was decided in a second round of voting, since no candidate received a sufficient majority in the first round of voting among the 21 members, all legit critics for major Gotham publications.

“Utopia” won a weighted ballot, with “Radio Golf” and Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon” coming in second and third. Other plays in the discussion included David Harrower’s “Blackbird” and Christopher Shinn’s “Dying City.”

Secondary play award, which comes with a prize of $1,000, is handed out to an American play if the first play chosen is foreign; category shifts to foreign play if the top play honor goes to a work from a U.S. writer.

Only two works from Wilson’s 10-play cycle about African-American life in the 20th century, “Gem of the Ocean” and “King Hedley II,” have not received Critics Circle laurels. All took the top play prize, except for “Two Trains Running” and “Golf.”

Wilson’s play also won in a second, weighted round of balloting. Second and third, respectively, among U.S. candidates considered for the American nod were “Dying City” and A.R. Gurney’s “Indian Blood.”

“Spring Awakening” took the tuner honors in a single round of voting, winning a clear majority of 17 votes. Also in the mix were the Kurt Weill-Lotte Lenya biotuner “LoveMusik” and “In the Heights,” the Off Broadway musical about life in a Latino neighborhood of uptown Manhattan.

Awards will be presented in a ceremony Monday at Gotham’s Algonquin Hotel.

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