Glitch in Drama Desk kudos: ‘Human error’

Snafu over tuner-helming nod cleared up

The drama was all behind-the-scenes — or rather after the fact — at Sunday night’s Drama Desk Awards.

At the ceremony, Bebe Neuwirth announced that Joe Mantello had won the musical-directing trophy for his work on “Assassins.” She got it half right. The helmer actually won for “Wicked.” The critics’ org nominated him for both tuners.

A spokesperson blamed the snafu on “human error” — and not Neuwirth’s; the wrong title was written on the presenter’s envelope.

The snafu caused confusion late Sunday and Monday morning, as theater journalists rushed to correct their Web sites and stories, which had been drawn from a press release sent out Sunday.

The email release named Mantello the winner for “Wicked,” but some sites corrected their stories (incorrectly) on Sunday night and Monday morning, when word spread from those in attendance that Mantello had been announced as the winner for “Assassins”; that show’s PR company even sent out a press release claiming it as a win.

Meanwhile, people associated with “Wicked,” who had seen the press release, were upset.

Joe Mantello released a revised acceptance speech on Monday:

“Now I feel as though I’ve been given the opportunity to acknowledge both ‘Assassins’ and ‘Wicked,’ which pleases me greatly. In addition to Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, who were honored last night, I would like to thank ‘Wicked’ ‘s wonderful design team, our perfect cast and Wayne Cilento, who was figuratively and literally by my side through the entire process. I would particularly like to acknowledge Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel and their contribution to the show. Although they are wonderful individuals and singular talents, in their work on ‘Wicked’ they are inextricably linked. They have given ‘Wicked’ an honesty, a passion and a sense of humor that will continue to exist in the work long after they depart.”

Mantello is doing well this awards season. The Outer Critics Circle gave him its helmer award, for “Wicked,” but did not nom him for “Assassins.”

The Tonys nommed him for “Assassins” but not “Wicked.” The Tony Awards ceremony is June 6.

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