Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joel Grey, Anika Noni Rose and Mare Winningham Among 2019 Lortel Award Nominees
Shows that figured prominently in the annual off-Broadway season honors include 'Carmen Jones,' 'Be More Chill,' the Bob Dylan alt-musical 'Girl From the North Country' and 'Fiddler on the Roof' in Yiddish.
Nominations were announced Wednesday for the 34th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, honoring the best of the off-Broadway season, and in the absence of a breakout discovery along the lines of Hamilton, the Off Broadway League chose to spread the wealth.
Leading the field with six nominations apiece are Oscar Hammerstein II's 1940s update of the Georges Bizet opera, Carmen Jones, a contender for outstanding revival, director John Doyle, lead performers Anika Noni Rose and Clifton Duncan, featured actress Soara-Joye Ross and sound design; and Andrew R. Butler's sci-fi folk concert, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future, in the running for outstanding musical, with Butler landing an additional nod for lead actor in a musical alongside lead actress Stacey Sargeant, and mentions for set design, lighting and sound.
Other shows that figure prominently in the main categories are Conor McPherson's drama set to the songs of Bob Dylan, Girl From the North Country, which is up for outstanding musical, lead actress Mare Winningham and featured performers Sydney James Harcourt and Luba Mason.
Also with four noms is the Joe Iconis musical Be More Chill, about a high school nerd who acquires cool status, at a cost, by ingesting a supercomputer chip that controls his brain. The show is in the running for outstanding musical, for featured performers Stephanie Hsu and George Salazar and for Alex Basco Koch's '80s-retro projection design. The production has since moved to Broadway.
Beloved industry veteran Joel Grey earned a directing nomination for his affecting revival of Fiddler on the Roof performed in Yiddish, also a contender for outstanding revival, lead actor Steven Skybell and featured actress Jackie Hoffman.
Out front in the play categories is Mlima's Tale, a sorrowful reflection on the illegal ivory trade told from the perspective of an African elephant killed for its tusks. Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, the drama scored five noms, including outstanding play, director Jo Bonney and lead actor Sahr Ngaujah, as well as costume and lighting design.
Other notable nominees include writer-performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag, the seriocomic monologue that spawned the critically lauded Amazon series. That production, led by Annapurna Theatre in its first New York stage venture, is up for outstanding solo show. It competes against Mike Birbiglia's The New One, about fatherhood angst, which bounced from its downtown premiere to a limited Broadway engagement; and Dennis Kelly's Girls & Boys, in which Carey Mulligan played a woman scarred by deep trauma. The latter play was produced by Amazon's audio entertainment arm Audible, and was recorded for subsequent release.
Rounding out the contenders for outstanding musical, alongside Be More Chill, Girl From the North Country and Rags Parkland, are Midnight at the Never Get and Miss You Like Hell; while the competition of Mlima's Tale for outstanding play includes Antoinette Nwandu's Pass Over, Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play, Donja R. Love's Sugar in Our Wounds and Heidi Schreck's What the Constitution Means to Me, an intensely personal political think piece that became a downtown sensation and recently reopened on Broadway to rapturous reviews.
The nominations were announced by actors Rebecca Naomi Jones and Gideon Glick, currently appearing on Broadway in Oklahoma! and To Kill a Mockingbird, respectively. The Lortel Awards will be presented May 5 at NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts, in a ceremony to be hosted by Wayne Brady.