David Byrne's 'Here Lies Love' Leads Lortel Nominations

Joan Marcus
"Here Lies Love"

The ex-Talking Heads frontman's Imelda Marcos musical dominates this year's off-Broadway honors alongside "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812," with 11 nods apiece.

NEW YORK – Two unconventional immersive musicals, David Byrne's Here Lies Love and Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, lead the field with 11 nominations each for the 29th annual Lucille Lortel Awards, the top honors for off-Broadway theater.

Those twin tallies represent a record high, with no show in the Lortels' history having previously garnered more than eight nominations.

A smash hit that extended multiple times during its premiere engagement last year at the Public Theater and is back for a return season beginning April 14, Here Lies Love is in the running for outstanding musical, for Alex Timbers' direction and Annie-B Parson's choreography. It also nabbed two lead actor slots, for Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora, one for lead actress Ruthie Ann Miles and another for featured actress Melody Butiu.

Conceived by Byrne, who collaborated on the score with Fatboy Slim, the show recounts the life of the former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, as a disco odyssey staged in a dance-club setting.

Malloy's show doesn't have the cachet of major music-industry names behind it, but the freewheeling retelling of a chapter from War and Peace, styled as electropop Russian dinner theater, has plenty of awards-season momentum. The musical had an extended run in a purpose-built tent space downtown before moving to Manhattan's theater district for a longer stint.

In addition to outstanding musical, its nominations include mentions for Rachel Chavkin's direction, lead actress Phillipa Soo, featured actors Blake DeLong and Lucas Steele, and featured actresses Brittain Ashford and Shaina Taub.

Also vying for the top musical prize, with nine nominations, is Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel about the parallel coming-out journeys of a father and daughter in a funeral-parlor family. The show also scored an impressive five acting nods, for leads Michael Cerveris, Sydney Lucas and Alexandra Socha, and for featured actors Noah Hinsdale and Judy Kuhn.

The final slot went to What's It All About, a non-narrative romantic mood musical reinterpreting the classic songbook of Burt Bacharach and Hal David for a new generation. Starring Kyle Riabko, who also conceived the show with David Lane Seltzer, that production landed four nominations, including one for Riabko's lead performance.

All four best musical nominees drew strong critical receptions, pointing to a relatively fertile environment off-Broadway for new musicals that contrasts sharply with this season's Broadway crop. Tony Award prognosticators are looking glumly across the field of new Broadway musicals, the majority of which have been greeted with tepid reviews at best.

Competing in the Lortels for outstanding new play are Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews, Bruce Norris' Domesticated, Conor McPherson's The Night Alive and Will Eno's The Open House.

Nominees for outstanding revival are the Public Theater and Foundry Theatre's Good Person of Szechwan, by Bertolt Brecht; MCC Theater's Hand to God, by Robert Askins; Mint Theater Company's London Wall, by John van Druten; Primary Stages' The Model Apartment, by Donald Margulies; and the Irish Repertory Theatre's The Weir, by McPherson, who has the rare distinction of having both a new play and a revival nominated in the same year. Kron also is a double nominee, getting a nod for her musical Fun Home and a featured actress mention for Good Person of Szechwan.

Up for outstanding solo show: the downtown smash Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins, performed by Michael Urie; How I Learned What I Learned by August Wilson, starring Ruben Santiago-Hudson; and Satchmo at the Waldorf, the Louis Armstrong bio-play by Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, performed by John Douglas Thompson.

It was announced earlier that this year's Lifetime Achievement Award will go to veteran producer Robyn Goodman, currently represented on Broadway with Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, and off-Broadway with the long-running Tony winner Avenue Q. Goodman also curates Roundabout Theatre Company's Underground series devoted to emerging artists, which yielded this year's four-time nominee Bad Jews.

The Lucille Lortel Awards ceremony will take place at NYU Skirball Center on Sunday, May 4, hosted by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, who will be appearing together off-Broadway starting April 13 in Sharr White's two-hander Annapurna for the New Group.

The complete list of 2014 Lucille Lortel Award nominations follows on the next page:


Outstanding Play

Bad Jews
Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company
Written by Joshua Harmon

Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by Bruce Norris

The Night Alive
Produced by Atlantic Theater Company
Written by Conor McPherson

The Open House
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Will Eno

Outstanding Musical

Fun Home
Produced by The Public Theater
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron
Based on the Alison Bechdel book

Here Lies Love
Produced by The Public Theater
Concept and Lyrics by David Byrne, Music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
Additional Music by Tom Ganey and J Pardo

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812‚Äč
Produced by Howard & Janet Kagan, Paula Marie Black, John Logan, Lisa Matlin, Daveed Frazier, Tom Smedes, Vertical Ent./Roman Gambourg/Lev Gelfer
Written by Dave Malloy

What's It All About
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hal David and Others
Conceived by Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer

Outstanding Revival

Good Person of Szechwan
Produced by The Public Theater and The Foundry Theatre
Written by Bertolt Brecht, Translation by John Willett

Hand to God
Produced by MCC Theater
Written by Robert Askins

London Wall
Produced by Mint Theater Company
Written by John van Druten

The Model Apartment
Produced by Primary Stages
Written by Donald Margulies

The Weir
Produced by The Irish Repertory Theatre
Written by Conor McPherson

Outstanding Solo Show

Buyer & Cellar
Produced by Darren Bagert, Dan Shaheen, Ted Snowdon, Daryl Roth, Martin Massman, Pat Flicker Addiss, Doug Nevin, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Andrew Tobias, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Written by Jonathan Tolins
Performed by Michael Urie

How I Learned What I Learned
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by August Wilson, Co-conceived with Todd Kreidler, in collaboration with Ruben-Santiago Hudson
Performed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Satchmo at the Waldorf
Produced by Long Wharf Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, Scott and Roxanne Bok, Roz and Jerry Meyer, Ronald Guttman, Shadowcatcher Entertainment, John LaMattina
Written by Terry Teachout
Performed by John Douglas Thompson

Outstanding Director

Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Lear deBessonet, Good Person of Szechwan

Sam Gold, Fun Home

Alex Timbers, Here Lies Love

Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

Outstanding Choreographer

Martha Clarke, Chéri

Marguerite Derricks, Heathers: The Musical

Danny Mefford, Fun Home

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love

Sonya Tayeh, Kung Fu

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play

Steven Boyer, Hand to God

Jon DeVries, Regular Singing

Peter Friedman, The Open House

Taylor Mac, Good Person of Szechwan

Armando Riesco, The Happiest Song Plays Last

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play

Tracee Chimo, Bad Jews

Diane Davis, The Model Apartment

Carolyn McCormick, The Open House

Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated

Andrus Nichols, Bedlam's Hamlet and Saint Joan

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical

Jeff Blumenkrantz, Murder For Two

Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Jose Llana, Here Lies Love

Kyle Riabko, What's It All About

Conrad Ricamora, Here Lies Love

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical

Sydney Lucas, Fun Home

Ruthie Ann Miles, Here Lies Love

Alexandra Socha, Fun Home

Phillipa Soo, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Barrett Wilbert Weed, Heathers: The Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Carson Elrod, The Explorers Club

Philip Ettinger, Bad Jews

Russell G. Jones, The Call

Jeremy Shamos, Dinner With Friends

Fred Weller, Reasons to Be Happy

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Hannah Bos, The Open House

Lynn Cohen, I Remember Mama

Lisa Kron, Good Person of Szechwan

Molly Ranson, Bad Jews

Sarah Stiles, Hand to God

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Heath Calvert, Nobody Loves You

Nick Choksi, Bunty Berman Presents…

Blake DeLong, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Noah Hinsdale, Fun Home

Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Uzo Aduba, Venice

Brittain Ashford, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Melody Butiu, Here Lies Love

Judy Kuhn, Fun Home

Shaina Taub, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Outstanding Scenic Design

Miriam Buether, Love and Information

David Korins, Here Lies Love

Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Clint Ramos, Appropriate

Matt Saunders, Good Person of Szechwan

Outstanding Costume Design

Gabriel Berry and Andrea Hood, Love and Information

Clint Ramos, Here Lies Love

Anita Yavich, The Explorers Club

Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Catherine Zuber, Far From Heaven

Outstanding Lighting Design

Daniel Ionazzi, The Jacksonian

Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Ben Stanton, Fun Home

Justin Townsend, Here Lies Love

Japhy Weideman, What's It All About

Outstanding Sound Design

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love

Clive Goodwin, What's It All About

Matt Hubbs, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Ryan Rumery, The Hatmaker's Wife

Christopher Shutt, Love and Information


Lifetime Achievement Award

Robyn Goodman

Playwrights' Sidewalk Inductee

Richard Nelson