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Off Broadway’s Lortel Awards Like ‘Piano Lesson,’ ‘Whale’

Revival winner 'Piano Lesson' wins a total of four awards while new play 'Whale' takes three

The Signature Theater Company’s much-lauded revival of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” scored with four Lucille Lortel Awards at Off Broadway’s annual kudofest.

The Playwrights Horizons staging of Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Whale” landed three trophies, including the top award for new play, while the Second Stage Theater bow of “Dogfight” — the tuner by current Tony nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“A Christmas Story”) — drew two including the tuner prize.

The Lortel nominees slate was an unusually starry one this year, with Vanessa Redgrave (“The Revisionist”) and America Ferrera (“Bethany”) both in the lead actress category and Jake Gyllenhaal (“If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet”) in the featured actor race. All three big names, however, were bested by “Piano Lesson” thesps, with Roslyn Ruff taking the prize for lead actress and Chuck Cooper scoring featured actor. Play also nabbed the awards for revival and for director Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Shuler Hensley took the lead actor award for his perf in “Whale,” which also notched a trophy for costume design (Jessica Pabst), while “Dogfight” nabbed an award for Christopher Gatelli’s choreography.

The Lortels are produced by the producing and admin committee of the Off Broadway League, by special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Foundation and with the support of Theater Development Fund. This year’s awards were handed out at New York U.’s Skirball Center in a ceremony hosted by Aasif Mandvi and Maura Tierney.

And the winners of the 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards are:

Outstanding Play

The Whale

Produced by Playwrights Horizons

Written by Samuel D. Hunter

Outstanding Musical

“Dogfight”

Produced by Second Stage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Book by Peter Duchan

Outstanding Revival

The Piano Lesson

Produced by Signature Theatre

Written by August Wilson

Outstanding Solo Show

“All the Rage”

Produced by piece by piece productions, Rising Phoenix Repertory in association with The Barrow Group

Written and Performed by Martin Moran

Outstanding Director

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “The Piano Lesson”

Outstanding Choreographer

Christopher Gattelli, “Dogfight”

Outstanding Lead Actor

Shuler Hensley, “The Whale”

Outstanding Lead Actress

Roslyn Ruff, “The Piano Lesson”

Outstanding Featured Actor

Chuck Cooper, “The Piano Lesson”

Outstanding Featured Actress

Annie Funke, “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet”

Outstanding Scenic Design

Clint Ramos, “Wild With Happy”

Outstanding Costume Design

Jessica Pabst, “The Whale”

Outstanding Lighting Design

Scott Zielinski, “A Civil War Christmas”

Outstanding Sound Design

Leah Gelpe, “Slowgirl”

SPECIAL AWARDS

Lifetime Achievement Award

Todd Haimes

Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee

Neil LaBute

Outstanding Body of Work Award

Theatre Development Fund

Outstanding Alternative Theatrical Experience

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