‘Orphans’ nabs drama critics circle award

No award given for musical or British play

“The Orphans’ Home Cycle” scored the top play prize from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.

A marathon of nine condensed Horton Foote plays, “Orphans’ Home” was the only production honored with a kudo from the circle this season. The org decided not to give awards for musical or Brit play, although special citations went to actress Viola Davis, scribe Annie Baker and the Lincoln Center Festival.

“Orphans’ Home” was seen in a three-part production at Off Broadway’s Signature Theater this season, with commercial producers currently considering moving the show to Broadway next season.

Win reps something of a valedictory lap for the late Foote, who died in March 2009. The scribe was working on the cycle of plays, set in the Texas town in which many of his other plays take place, when he died, and the Signature staging earned glowing notices from Gotham reviewers.

The fact that no other awards were given by the circle underscores the fact that the Broadway season has not yielded a standout frontrunner a la last year’s musical winner “Billy Elliot.”

The musicals with original scores, “The Addams Family” and “Memphis,” didn’t earn many raves from critics, whereas one show that did, “American Idiot,” uses pre-existing tunes (which some see as a drawback) and is not structured like a traditional musical.

Critics overlooked such Brit play offerings as “Red” and “Enron” in nixing the transatlantic kudo. (In years when a British offering wins the top play prize, an award for American play is often given.)

The top award for play comes with a cash prize of $2,500.

Davis, now co-starring with Denzel Washington in the current revival of “Fences,” picked up a citation for sustained achievement. Baker got one for emerging artist, following a season in which Off Broadway productions of her plays “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “The Aliens” wowed many in the legit press.

Lincoln Center Fest, an annual multi-week event presenting performing arts from around the world, was cited for visionary international programming.

Award and citations will be presented at a cocktail reception set for May 10 at the Algonquin Hotel.

The NYDCC is made up of about about 20 critics who cover New York theater for Gotham-based outlets.

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