'Once' nabs musical award

Off Broadway’s “Sons of the Prophet” won the top play away from the New York Drama Critics Circle, with “Once” scoring the kudo for musical.

Another Off Broadway outing, “Tribes,” took home the prize for foreign play, while special citations went to Signature Theater Company and helmer Mike Nichols, currently repped on Broadway with his revival of “Death of a Salesman.”

Stephen Karam’s comic drama about a man juggling his family life, his job and mysterious chronic pain, “Sons of the Prophet” won glowing reviews when it played in a limited run in the fall at the Roundabout Theater Company. Reception was similarly enthusiastic for Nina Raine’s “Tribes,” centering on a deaf young man and his hearing family; show is still running in a commercial production at the Barrow Street Theater.

None of the plays currently in contention for the Tony for new play were eligible for the NYDCC’s award this year, since all four of them — “Clybourne Park,” “Other Desert Cities,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Venus in Fur” — were considered in prior years in their earlier, Off Broadway incarnations.

The win for “Once,” on the other hand, reps the latest notch in the belt for the well-received musical, the recent recipient of three Lortel Awards and heading into the Tony Awards with 11 noms.

Signature Theater scored the citation in a season that saw the Off Broadway nonprofit debut a significantly expanded season of work in a newly built, multi-stage midtown venue. Award for Nichols, meanwhile, acknowledges “Salesman” as the latest outing in a long career helming Rialto fare from “Barefoot in the Park” to “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

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

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