By Randy Gener

NEW YORK CITY |  Ever want to proof of how provincial oh-so-metropolitan Broadway is?   There’s no need to go far from the predictably tepid, copy-and-pasted reception of the prestigious 2017 Outer Critics Circle Award, which was announced this week at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.

One variety of stale commentary, for example, describes the OCC Awards as “an imperfect bellwether for the Tonys.”  Which, by the way, is a remark that reveals nothing — except indicating that it is a precursor for the upcoming Tonys.  Where’s the sense of dramatic perception? the commentary about the touring commercial viability lent by the awards on new shows? the savvy reflection about how culturally necessary the OCC Awards are?

Nowhere.

The Outer Critics Circle Awards honors shows that have been well received by critics covering New York theatre by out-of-town newspapers, national publications and other media beyond Broadway.  That mission tells us a lot about the independent purview and broader scope of OCC’s press membership. That’s what makes OCC Awards unique.

Does love from the Outer Critics Circle usually mean that a Tony nomination will follow? Boring question.  Because the focus of that narrow-minded question does not give the OCC Awards their proper due. It would have at the very least been more entertaining if Broadway commentators got snarky or skeptical by digging below the know-nothing surface.

Winners will be announced on May 8 with the presentation of the prizes to made at a gala reception at Sardi’s on May 25.

Can’t anybody see that there’s an impending games-of-thrones fight between a spunky Russian orphan princess Anya and an energetic widowed matchmaker Dolly?  How could anybody miss that?  The knockdown drag-out battle can be spotted right there on the headlines.

And what about the knockdown stalemate the Outer Critics Circle wrought between Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney?  Night after night, these two popular actresses switch lead roles in Broadway’s THE LITTLE FOXES, and yet the nominators filleted the awards bounty as if it were so much fish.  Linney gets tapped as a best actress nominee, while her co-star (who is actually a lead in the role-reversal revival of Lillian Hellman’s play) got shelved in a separate category as a featured actress.  Why couldn’t they have both been nominated in both categories?

Given that the new musical ANASTASIA demolishes the box-office juggernaut HELLO, DOLLY! with Bette Midler (in terms of the number of nominations), you’d think that the news media and industry types would know what they’re talking about.  Fact is they’re stuck in bored stereotypes and lazy thinking and fuzzy memories when it comes to adequately assessing how the Outer Critics Circle nominations fared this year.

ANASTASIA on Broadway
ANASTASIA on Broadway

Meanwhile, over there at the prediction-happy Gold Derby, the most incisive insight that can be had is this: “It is difficult to predict which way the OCC will go for Best Broadway Musical.”

That’s it?  That’s all Gold Derby has to say about the theater’s trophy season?  Where are the trends? Where are the analyses of these critics when it comes to tracking voting patterns?

In any case, we’re talking front runners here mainly, so we can’t expect penetrating commentary.  ANASTASIA and HELLO DOLLY took the lead in the nominations for the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards, with the former show racking up 13 nominations and the latter baby taking ten.

Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s INDECENT sits at the front of the pack of play nominees by scoring 7 nominations. Actors on the nominations list include Midler, Daniel Craig (OTHELLO), Allison Janney (SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION), Nathan Lane (THE FRONT PAGE) and WAR PAINT leads Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole.

Made up of journalists who cover Broadway and Off Broadway theater for outlets based outside of New York, the Outer Critics Circle sometimes (but not often, as other wags like to note) deviate from the trends and voting patterns that are established in the subsequent weeks of the theater trophy season.

This year, big shows like DEAR EVAN HANSEN and NATASHA, PIERRE ANDS THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 weren’t considered.  Nor was IN TRANSIT.

Guess we’ll have to wait for people to wake up to the impending horserace.


The full list of 2016-17 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations follows.

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Indecent
Oslo
Sweat

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
Anastasia
A Bronx Tale
Come From Away
Groundhog Day
Holiday Inn

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
If I Forget
Incognito
A Life
Linda
Love, Love, Love

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
The Band’s Visit
Hadestown
Himself and Nora
Kid Victory
Spamilton

ANASTASIA on Broadway
ANASTASIA on Broadway

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Terrence McNally Anastasia
Itamar Moses The Band’s Visit
Chazz Palminteri A Bronx Tale
Danny Rubin Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein Come From Away

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens Anastasia
Alan Menken & Glenn Slater A Bronx Tale
Tim Minchin Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein Come From Away
David Yazbek The Band’s Visit

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
The Front Page
Jitney
The Little Foxes
Othello
The Price

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Finian’s Rainbow
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon
Sunset Boulevard
Sweeney Todd

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Lila Neugebauer The Wolves
Jack O’Brien The Front Page
Daniel Sullivan The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman Indecent
Kate Whoriskey Sweat

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Christopher Ashley Come From Away
David Cromer The Band’s Visit
Darko Tresnjak Anatasia
Matthew Warchus Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER
Andy Blankenbuehler Bandstand
Warren Carlyle Hello, Dolly!
Savion Glover Shuffle Along
Kelly Devine Come From Away
Denis Jones Holiday Inn


OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN (Play or Musical)

Alexander Dodge Anastasia
Nigel Hook The Play That Goes Wrong
Mimi Lien Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Scott Pask The Little Foxes
Douglas W. Schmidt The Front Page

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN (Play or Musical)
Linda Cho Anastasia
Susan Hilferty Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto Hello, Dolly!
Ann Roth Shuffle Along
Catherine Zuber War Paint

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN (Play or Musical)
Christopher Akerlind Indecent
Donald Holder Anastasia
Natasha Katz Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Kenneth Posner War Paint

OUTSTANDING PROJECTION DESIGN (Play or Musical)

Duncan McLean Privacy
Jared Mezzocchi Vietgone
Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions Oslo
Aaron Rhyne Anastasia
Tal Yarden Indecent

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN (Play or Musical)
Gareth Fry & Pete Malkin The Encounter
Gareth Owen Come From Away
Nicholas Pope Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Matt Stine Sweeney Todd
Nevin Steinberg Bandstand

OUTSTANDING ORCHESTRATIONS
Doug Besterman Anastasia
Larry Blank Holiday Inn
Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen Bandstand
Larry Hochman Hello, Dolly!
Jamshied Sharifi The Band’s Visit

Jake Gyllenhaal singing in a Broadway musical

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Daniel Craig  Othello
Michael Emerson Wakey, Wakey
Kevin Kline Present Laughter
David Oyelowo Othello
David Hyde Pierce A Life

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Janie Dee Linda
Sally Field The Glass Menagerie
Allison Janney Six Degrees of Separation
Laura Linney The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf A Doll’s House, Part 2

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Christian Borle Falsettos
Nick Cordero A Bronx Tale
Andy Karl Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce Hello, Dolly!
Tony Shalhoub The Band’s Visit

Mark Ruffalo and Jessica Hecht in THE PRICE on Broadway THE PRICE CAST Mark Ruffalo Victor Franz Tony Shalhoub Walter Franz Jessica Hecht Esther Franz Danny DeVito Gregory Solomon THE PRICE CREATIVE Arthur Miller Playwright Terry Kinney Director Derek McLane—Set Designer Sarah J. Holden—Costume Designer David Weiner—Lighting Designer Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen—Sound Designers
Mark Ruffalo and Jessica Hecht in THE PRICE on Broadway
Mark Ruffalo, Victor Franz, Tony Shalhoub, Walter Franz, Jessica Hecht and Danny DeVito 

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Christy Altomare Anastasia
Christine Ebersole War Paint
Katrina Lenk The Band’s Visit
Patti LuPone War Paint
Bette Midler Hello, Dolly!

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

Michael Aronov Oslo
Danny DeVito The Price
Nathan Lane The Front Page
Richard Thomas The Little Foxes
Richard Topol Indecent

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Johanna Day Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell A Doll’s House, Part 2
Katrina Lenk Indecent
Nana Mensah Man From Nebraska
Cynthia Nixon The Little Foxes

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
John Bolton Anastasia
Jeffry Denman Kid Victory
Gavin Creel Hello, Dolly!
Shuler Hensley Sweet Charity
Andrew Rannells Falsettos

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Kate Baldwin Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block Falsettos
Jenn Colella Come From Away
Caroline O’Connor Anastasia
Mary Beth Peil Anastasia

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE
Ed Dixon Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose
Marin Ireland On the Exhale
Sarah Jones Sell / Buy / Date
Judith Light All the Ways to Say I Love You
Simon McBurney The Encounter

JOHN GASSNER AWARD
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Jaclyn Backhaus Men on Boats
Sarah DeLappe The Wolves
Paola Lázaro Tell Hector I Miss Him
Qui Nguyen Vietgone
Bess Wohl Small Mouth Sounds

ANASTASIA on Broadway
ANASTASIA on Broadway
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