The nominees for the 58th annual Drama Desk Awards are out and there are a few productions and African-Americans that are truly shining bright. Plays of the past are definitely getting recognized, as August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” presented by the Signature Theatre, is nominated in three categories. It is up for outstanding Revival of a Play; Outstanding Director of a Play, Ruben Santiago-Hudson (who is a veteran August Wilson actor and director); and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, Chuck Cooper.
It is marvelous to see that “The Piano Lesson” was nominated, because I had the pleasure of seeing it during its run and it was a perfect production. It had the audience completely riveted and mesmerized. As one sat in the audience, you felt like you were witnessing a theatrical gift.
Another production up for Outstanding Revival of a Play is the Broadway show “The Trip to Bountiful,” playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre at 124 W. 43rd St. It too has a total of three nominations, the other two being Outstanding Actress in a Play, Cicely Tyson, and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Condola Rashad. I was thrilled to hear of these nominations because, of course, Tyson is a well-known veteran actress and Rashad, who was last seen on Broadway in her debut in “Stickfly,” always completely puts herself into a role.
Billy Porter, star of the new musical “Kinky Boots,” playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre at 302 W. 45th St., is nominated in the category of Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and believe me, he deserves it. When Porter is on that stage, he gives an exceptional performance and portrays his character, a drag queen named Lola, with a great deal of emotion and sensitivity.
The Drama Desk Awards acknowledge shows on Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway that played during the 2012-2013 theater season. The awards will be presented Sunday, May 19, at the Town Hall, located at 123 W. 43rd St. at 8 p.m.
Although there are not a lot of African-Americans nominated, let’s hope that at least these nominations win this coveted theatrical prize.