Broadway plays top annual theater awards
Broadway offerings “Billy Elliot,” “God of Carnage,” “Hair” and “Blithe Spirit” won the competitive production categories at the Drama League’s annual awards luncheon.Geoffrey Rush, selected from a field of about 70 performers, nabbed the actor prize. New tuner “Billy,” new play “Carnage” and tuner revival “Hair” are all Tony contenders in their respective categories, and the Drama League wins rep another upshift in awards momentum for the offerings. Play revival “Blithe Spirit,” however, was left out of the Tony race in a season packed with notable non-tuner revivals. A dozen play revivals were nommed for a kudo from the Drama League, whose traditionally wide-ranging list of Broadway and Off Broadway nominations included 10 new tuners and 11 new plays. Rush, who scored the thesp award for his turn in “Exit the King,” was selected from a pool of nominated performers that included Sutton Foster (“Shrek”), Daniel Radcliffe (“Equus”), David Hyde Pierce (“Accent on Youth”), Kristin Scott Thomas (“The Seagull”), James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden (both of “God of Carnage”) and Rush’s co-star Susan Sarandon. Previously announced honors were handed out to Elton John, composer of “Billy Elliot,” for musical theater achievement; Angela Lansbury (“Blithe Spirit”), for unique contribution to the theater; and to producer Herb Blodgett, who received the league’s 75th anniversary leadership laurel. Arthur Laurents, book writer and helmer of the current revival of “West Side Story,” could not attend the ceremony due to illness, so his director nod was accepted on his behalf by “West Side” associate helmer David Saint. The 75th Anniversary Drama League awards ceremony and luncheon was held Friday at Gotham’s Marriott Marquis. Jeremy Irons and Cynthia Nixon hosted.