'Between Riverside and Crazy,' 'Hamilton' Take 2015 New York Drama Critics' Circle Honors

Joan Marcus
Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones in 'Hamilton'

The group opted to give no foreign play prize but awarded special citations to designer Bob Crowley and to off-Broadway developmental hub Ars Nova.

The New York Drama Critics' Circle mirrored the voting of this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama, awarding best play honors to Stephen Adly GuirgisBetween Riverside and Crazy, while the prize for outstanding musical of the season went in a landslide to Hamilton.

Guirgis' tragicomic tale of a retired African-American cop risking eviction from his rent-stabilized Upper West Side Manhattan apartment after a protracted lawsuit against the police force was first produced last summer by off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theatre Company and then brought back in a return engagement at Second Stage Theatre.

The play won the NYDCC’s 80th annual award on its third ballot, beating out strong support for Suzan-Lori ParksFather Comes Home From the Wars, Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand and Branden Jacobs-JenkinsAn Octoroon.

Read more 'Between Riverside and Crazy' Wins Pulitzer Prize

The award for best musical was a no-contest win for Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway-bound Hamilton, which scored a clear majority on the first vote.

The hip-hop historical bio-musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton wrapped its premiere run at off-Broadway's Public Theater on Sunday. It begins previews July 13 on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with official opening scheduled for Aug. 6. Pundits are already calling the game-changing musical a frontrunner for the 2016 Pulitzer and top Tony Awards.

A sold-out success with critics and audiences, extended multiple times during its engagement at the Public, Hamilton has been a major draw for boldface names from across politics, entertainment and media.

Among those who caught the show at the Public are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Madonna, Cher, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon and Anna Wintour.

Read more 'Hamilton' Plans Swift Move to Broadway

While the NYDCC has frequently voted to give a separate nod for best foreign play when the main prize goes to an American work, it was decided that no award would be given this year. Despite strong support for Simon StephensThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a clear consensus was not reached.

The group did elect, however to present two special citations. One went to Bob Crowley for distinguished achievement in scenic and costume design. The stagecraft veteran is represented on Broadway this season with his sets and costumes for An American in Paris, The Audience and Skylight, which landed him four Tony nominations. The second citation went to the fertile off-Broadway incubator Ars Nova, for sustained quality and commitment to the development of new work. The company's well-received plays this season included The Debate Society's Jacuzzi and Bess Wohl's Small Mouth Sounds.

Some of this year's Tony contenders, including Fun Home and Hand to God, were ineligible for consideration by the critics' group, having been in the mix last year in their earlier off-Broadway incarnations.

Read more Tonys: 'American in Paris,' 'Fun Home' Dominate Awards Race

The NYDCC has been awarding prizes to the best of the theater season, including both Broadway and off-Broadway, since 1936, making it the country’s second-oldest theater award, after the Pulitzer. The organization currently includes 23 New York-based theater critics from daily newspapers, magazines, websites and wire services.

The 2015 honors will be presented at a private cocktail reception at cabaret venue 54 Below on May 19.

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