‘Once’ tops Drama Desks

'Tribes,' 'Follies' and 'Salesman' also score

Tony nominee “Once” took home the top Drama Desk Award for new tuner Sunday, while Off Broadway outing “Tribes” scored for play. Revival kudos went to “Death of a Salesman” (for play) and “Follies” (for musical), both also in the running for Tonys.

“Once” bested a field of nominees that included its Tony competish — “Newsies,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Leap of Faith” — as well as “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Queen of the Mist” and “Death Takes a Holiday,” the Off Broadway production that, at 10 bids, tied “Follies” for the highest tally of Drama Desk noms.

While the kudos for “Once” — which also snagged the honors for tuner director (John Tiffany), lyrics (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) and orchestrations (Martin Lowe) — adds awards momentum to that tuner as it heads into the Tonys, the Drama Desk race for play bore no relation to the upcoming Tony standoff. None of the Tony-nominated plays, including “Clybourne Park” and “Other Desert Cities,” were eligible for Drama Desks this year because they had been considered in previous years in their Off Broadway incarnations.

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“Tribes” rose to the top of a field of nominees that included Lynn Nottage’s “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” David Henry Hwang’s “Chinglish” and Nicky Silver’s “The Lyons.”

Lead thesping kudos went to James Corden (“One Man, Two Guvnors”) and Tracie Bennett (“End of the Rainbow”) in the play categories and to Danny Burstein (“Follies”) and Audra McDonald (“Porgy and Bess”) in the tuner races. All are also contenders for a Tony, as are the supporting acting winners Tom Edden (“One Man”), Judith Light (“Other Desert Cities”), Michael McGrath and Judy Kaye (both of “Nice Work”).

Walking away with three wins, “Salesman” also nabbed laurels for director Mike Nichols and lighting designer Brian McDevitt. “Nice Work” and “One Man” also snagged three apiece.

In addition to its acting triumphs, “Nice Work” picked up a trophy for book writer Joe DiPietro, while “Newsies” nabbed awards for music (Alan Menken) and choreography (Christopher Gatelli). “One Man” won the award for music in a play (Grant Olding).

In a Sunday ceremony at Gotham’s Town Hall, the Drama Desks also handed out previously announced special awards to actors Mary Testa and Nick Westrate, scribe Stephen Karam, presenter New Victory Theater and the cast of Off Broadway’s “Sweet and Sad.” Brooke Shields and Brian d’Arcy James hosted the shindig.

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