'KPOP' Rules at Off-Broadway's Lortel Awards

KPOP Still 1 - Publicity - H 2017
Ben Arons

The immersive musical about a fictional Korean pop factory scored nine nominations, while Carrie Coon, Michael Urie, Cristin Milioti and Paul Sparks are among those in the running for acting honors.

Nominations for the 33rd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards were announced Wednesday, with honors spread across an eclectic mix of musicals and plays from the 2017-18 off-Broadway season.

Out in front with nine nominations is KPOP, an immersive behind-the-scenes look at a fictional Korean pop music factory produced by Ars Nova in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective. The show is up for outstanding musical, lead actor in a musical James Seol, lead actress in a musical Ashley Park, featured actor in a musical Jason Tam and featured actress in a musical Vanessa Kai, among others. Park has since jumped to the Broadway cast of Tina Fey's Mean Girls, while Tam was featured on NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

Heading the nonmusical nominations is Amy Herzog's Mary Jane, produced by New York Theatre Workshop, with six mentions, including lead actress in a play for Carrie Coon, featured actress for Liza Colon-Zayas and direction for Anne Kauffman. However, the critically acclaimed drama about a single mother caring for her chronically ill son was notably absent from the nominees for outstanding play.

That makes the likely frontrunner among new plays Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline, which focuses on the personal and professional struggles of an inner-city high school teacher. That Lincoln Center Theater production scored five noms, including outstanding play, lead actress Karen Pittman, lead actor Namir Smallwood and director Lileana Blain-Cruz.

At a time of heightened attention to gender equality in New York stage productions, four of the five directing noms this year went to women. In addition to Blain-Cruz and Kauffman, Lila Neugebauer received a mention for her work on Miles for Mary, while Leigh Silverman is up for the solo play Harry Clarke. The lone male nominee is Michael Greif for The Low Road.

The season's most nominated revival is Signature Theatre's staging of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train. Other notable noms include four for Jerry Springer — The Opera, which is a contender for outstanding musical in its belated off-Broadway premiere, as well as lead actor Terrence Mann in the title role.

The remaining nominees for outstanding musical, in addition to KPOP and Jerry Springer, are Bella: An American Tall Tale, Desperate Measures and Hundred Days. Nominated for outstanding play alongside Pipeline are Martyna Majok's Cost of Living, Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Max Posner's The Treasurer and Miles for Mary, a collective work written by Marc Bovino, Joe Cumette, Michael Dalto, Lila Neugebauer and Stephanie Wright Thompson.

The absence of a breakout hit on the order of Hamilton or Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, both of which went on to Broadway transfers, is reflected in this year's broad selection of titles. Only one, Second Stage Theatre's revival of Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song, has confirmed plans to move to Broadway. Michael Urie scored a nom for lead actor in a play for that production, which also is in the running for outstanding revival.

Perhaps the most disappointing showing was for Martin McDonagh's Hangmen, which drew rave reviews at the Atlantic Theater Company and was expected to jump swiftly to Broadway until those plans were put on hold by the unavailability of a key castmember. The production scored a sole nom for scenic design.

Zoe Kazan's After the Blast missed out on a nom for outstanding play but did earn three mentions, including one for lead actress Cristin Milioti. However, the acclaimed revival of Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo received just a single nom for featured actor Paul Sparks.

For the full list of nominations, go to lortelaward.com. The awards will be presented Sunday, May 6, at the NYU Skirball Center in a ceremony to be hosted by Laura Benanti and Jason Jones.