Rain didn’t keep Cinderella away from the 58th annual Drama Desk Awards, at Town Hall in New York on Sunday evening. Laura Osnes, who won Outstanding Actress in a Musical for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” looked the part in a gold dress with spike heel sandals to match. What, no glass slippers? “I’m Laura,” she quipped. “Cinderella wears the glass slippers . . . and besides, it’s raining!”
Richard Kind was genuine when he told me afterwards, “It’s not a feeling I’m used to. I can’t catch my breath,” after winning Outstanding Feature Actor in a Play for his performance in “The Big Knife.”
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play went to Judith Light for her role in “The Assembled Parties.” She attributed the plays success to the fact that “it’s a universal play with iconic family dynamics. Although Light plays a Jewish woman, “you don’t have to be Jewish to relate to it,” she told me. “It’s not about the Jews, it’s about who these people are and their mishegas on the cellular level.” Light looked fabulous in a blue silk jacket with a large peacock embroidered on the back and slim white pants. She described Richard Greenberg’s writing as “so rich and so deep that there’s always so much to be mined in the role.” She added, “You have to keep it within the context so you go vertical not horizontal. That’s the joy of it.”
The exceptional talent, Tracy Letts, who is both a playwright and actor, won Outstanding Actor in a Play for his role of George in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “We approached it as a new play,” he told me on the fiftieth anniversary of the work . About his character: “He has the resourcefulness of a hero. That’s why he is the protagonist of this play. He’s not a guy I’d ever want to be, but I do admire his resources.” He described the role day after day as “bruising,” which is why he thought “how nice it would be to sit in a cool office and write,” which he does on a manual typewriter. “I like the physical contact,” he said, “punching the keys.”
Letts, both a successful playwright (“Osage County;” “Superior Donuts”) and actor, spoke about the difference between the two. “When you’re a playwright you’re responsible for the whole thing, the feel of it; as an actor, you’re responsible for your chap, the character.“ He just finished writing a new play. “I don’t take a break. If I’m not acting, I go back to work as a writer,” Letts said. “I’ll keep going like this until I can’t do one or the other. I wouldn’t be as good at one without the other.”
The winners mingled with guests over Mediterranean food at the after party at the former Liberty Theatre. Co-Executive Producer Bob Blume was pleased that instead of a single host, they had a lot of fun with the “Old Jews Telling Jokes.” Other winners: “Matilda” for Outstanding Musical and Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike” for Outstanding Play. The Drama Desk Awards are the only major New York theater honors where Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway productions compete in the same categories.
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