New York Drama Critics Anoint ‘Vanya and Sonia,’ ‘Matilda’

Gotham journalists put their weight behind two titles that are also Tony contenders

The New York Critics Drama Circle weighed in with its picks of the 2012-13 season, naming Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” top play and “Matilda” top musical.

Both “Vanya and Sonia” and “Matilda” are Tony nominees in wide-open races, so the NYDCC adds momentum to both titles in advance of the Tonycast. “Vanya and Sonia” finds itself in a category alongside “Lucky Guy,” “The Assembled Parties,” and “The Testament of Mary,” with all of them seeming like genuine possibilities to claim the crown. “Matilda,” meanwhile, has a viable competitor in “Kinky Boots,” with “Kinky” scoring 13 total noms vs. the 12 for “Matilda.”

Critics make up only a small percentage of the 868 legiters who vote for the Tonys, but their seal of approval nonetheless seems a factor that voters will consider as they fill out the ballots.

NYDCC also decided to award special citations of recognition to risk-taking downtown company Soho Rep and set designer John Lee Beatty (“Orphans,” “The Big Knife,” “The Nance”) as well as to New York City Center’s 20-year-old Encores! series of semi-staged musicals presented in concert performances, a program that has yielded Broadway productions including the long-running revival of “Chicago.”

NYDCC also considers Off Broadway titles when hammering out its award winners. According to publicly released details of the voting process posted on the NYDCC website, no single candidate for top play scored more than five votes — a mark of the wide-open awards race in the play field. Eventually it came down to “Vanya and Sonia” beating out Annie Baker’s “The Flick,” Richard Greenberg’s “Assembled Parties” and Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer winner “Disgraced.”

The musical competitors came down to “Matilda” vs. three Off Broadway outings, “Here Lies Love,” “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” and “Giant.”

The 26 members of the NYDCC voted not to award a kudo for foreign play this year.

The award for play comes with a check for $2,500. NYDCC kudos will be handed out May 13 at 54 Below in Gotham.

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