Women make strong showing in Outer Critics Circle nominations


Well, it’s here — the announcement you’ve all been anticipating. The Outer Critics Circle Award nominations have been announced! What? You you’ve never heard of the Outer Critics Circle Awards? Well, that puts you in stead with everyone else in the world that doesn’t follow New York theater closely. These awards could really use a good PR campaign.

Laurie Metcalf in November

To clarify the confusion, these are the Golden Globes of the New York theater. Just as the Golden Globes are predictive of and broader (movies and television) than the Oscars, these are predictive of and broader (Broadway and Off-Broadway) than the Tony Awards. But they really need a catchier name. If the Golden Globes were called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Awards, I don’t think so many stars would show up and get publicly drunk at the ceremony. 

Given that I do follow New York theater somewhat closely, I care about the Outer Critics Circle Awards. And one good thing about this year’s awards is how well women are represented in non-acting categories. Half of the nominees for Outstanding Director of a Play and Outstanding Choreographer are women. Half. Compare that to, say, the Academy Awards where there appears to be an unwritten rule against nominating women for Outstanding Achievement in Direction.

And there are some amazing women nominated for the acting awards, though there are not, to the best of my knowledge, any lesbians nominated. (Cherry Jones, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Paulson didn’t do theater this year, and director Leigh Silverman was working too far off Broadway.) However, there is one nomination for a lesbian character! (I know, it’s sad to get to excited about that, but I need to grasp on to something.)

Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights, shall we? (And by highlights, I mean categories in which I know enough to have an opinion.) 

Outstanding New Broadway Play

My Pick: August: Osage County

OK, I haven’t seen any of the other nominees, but I’m sticking by this choice. (I never claimed I would be fair.) Although written by a man, Tracy Letts, this show is all about the women — the vicious, dying matriarch and daughters of a family who gather in a time of crisis to cope and brutalize each other. (I realize I’m not making it sound good, but it was brilliantly written and acted. Don’t trust me. Read the review.) It was never predictable, never schmaltzy, and the characters were complex. 

Outstanding New Broadway Musical

My Pick: A Catered Affair  

I didn’t see A Catered Affair, but I don’t want Young Frankenstein to win and Xanadu just doesn’t deserve it. I think the only reasons to see Young Frankenstein are Sutton Foster and Megan Mullally — and neither of them was nominated for an award. 

Outstanding Revival of a Play

My pick: Les Liasons Dangereuses 

Again, I haven’t seen this, but it stars Laura Linney!

Photo credit: Vince Bucci/Getty Images

The theater world should be rewarded for bringing her to Broadway. And Laura Linney really needs to play a lesbian some day. She’s one of the best actors out there, and I think she could make a believable dyke. 

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

My Pick: Gypsy

Again, the women, Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, drive this production, although everyone is good. I’ve blogged about how great this production is, so I won’t go on and on, but suffice to say, both women were mesmerizing. 

Left to right: Actors Boyd Gaines, Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti at the opening night of Gypsy

Photo credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

I will, however, acknowledge that South Pacific is supposed to be excellent. But I haven’t seen it, so Gypsy wins for me. 

Outstanding Director of a Play

My Pick: Anna D. Shapiro – August: Osage County  

A woman directing women in the best play of the year — how much better could it get? (Well, I suppose there could be a lesbian in the production.) If she doesn’t win, I want it to go to the other woman nominated, Maria Aitken for the 39 Steps. Which for me is tokenism because I didn’t see the play and am picking her just because she’s a woman. But I can live with that.  

Outstanding Actress in a Play

My Pick: Deanna Dunagan – August: Osage County  

This is a tough one. Deanna Dunagan was amazing as the pill-popping matriarch, but she’s up against Laura Linney and S. Epatha Merkerson. So I’m kind of rooting for a three-way tie. 

Dunagan (left) and Merkerson

Photo credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images (Merkerson)

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

My Pick: Patti LuPone – Gypsy

I don’t need to elaborate. I’ve gushed enough about her. But I do have a soft spot for Faith Prince

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

My Pick: Laurie Metcalf – November

Her character is the aforementioned lesbian. And I’ve heard she was really good, so this is our shot at some lesbian respresentation.

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

My Pick: Laura Benanti – Gypsy

Ask anyone who saw the show. Laura Benanti was spectacular. And she’s very pretty — which may be shallow of me, but I can live with it. And she strips. She may get a run for her money, however, from Harriet Harris who steals every show in which she appears.

I know I’m not the only theater geek out there. Take a look at the nominations and share your picks.

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