The New York Drama Critics’ Circle voted not to give a prize for best musical this season, implicitly endorsing The Band’s Visit‘s Tony Award ambitions and rejecting Broadway’s other new musicals.
“It does bode well for The Band’s Visit,” Critics’ Circle President Adam Feldman said in an interview.
David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’s show, about an Egyptian police band stranded in a sleepy Israeli village, won the Critics’ Circle musical award last year after an off-Broadway run at the Atlantic. (Unlike the Tony competition, the Critics’ Circle looks beyond Broadway.) No new Broadway musical came close this year, indicating that the majority of the critics don’t see a serious rival in quality to Band’s Visit, which was nominated for 11 Tonys.
Last year, Band’s Visit got 16 out of 22 critics’ votes, according to the organization’s web site. It enjoyed great reviews off-Broadway and on Broadway (and wasn’t eligible for a Critics’ Circle award this year). Thursday night, SpongeBob SquarePants got 2 votes (Marilyn Stasio of Variety and Christopher Kelly of NJ.com) and Mean Girls got one (David Sheward of culturalweekly.com) out of 19 critics. Disney’s Frozen was bageled. After a divided first ballot, the group decided to forego an award for musical.
The critics group last gave no award in the category in 2010. That year, Memphis won the best musical Tony.
One mitigating factor in the Band’s Visit bandwagon: Critics’ Circle members who are eligible to cast Tony ballots represent just 3 percent of all 842 votes.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got a special citation for its staging, design and illusions. Amy Herzog’s Mary Jane, which was presented off-Broadway by New York Theatre Workshop in the fall, was named best play. Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, presented by the Atlantic off-Broadway, was named best foreign play.
Among the musical runners-up, Jerry Springer — The Opera, which the New Group did off-Broadway, got four votes. KPOP, from Ars Nova, got three. It starred Ashley Park, who was nominated for a Tony for her role in Mean Girls.
(This post was updated to add Harry Potter‘s special citation.)