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Audra McDonald and Liev Schreiber to Announce Drama Desk Noms 5/2

Nominations for the 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards will be announced at a news conference on Monday, May 2, 2011, at 9:30 AM at the New York Friars Club, 57 East 55th Street, in Manhattan. A continental breakfast will be available at 8:45 AM. Drama Desk and Tony winners Audra McDonald and Liev Schreiber will announce the nominations in the various categories. In addition, there will be remarks by Drama Desk President Isa Goldberg, Drama Desk Awards Executive Producer Robert R. Blume, Nominating Committee Chairperson Barbara Siegel and Randie Levine-Miller, Drama Desk Director of Special Events, who has produced this event at the Friars Club for the past 15 years.

Audra McDonald, who has won three Drama Desk Awards (Carousel, A Raisin in the Sun and 110 in the Shade) and four Tony Awards (Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime and A Raisin in the Sun) in her distinguished career, is a singer and actress frequently compared to legendary performers such as Garland and Streisand. Her film and television work has been well noted with an Emmy nomination for her performance in Mike Nichols' production of Wit on HBO and strong recognition for her portrayal of Grace Farrell in the made-for-television production of Annie. An exclusive recording artist for Nonesuch Records, her three solo discs comprising popular standards and contemporary music theater songs have won wide audiences. She currently appears on ABC-TV's Private Practice.

Considered one of the finest actors of his generation, Liev Schreiber has won two Drama Desk Awards (Glengarry Glen Ross and A View From A Bridge), two Drama Desk nominations (Betrayal and Talk Radio), a Tony Award (Glengarry Glen Ross) plus three Tony Award nominations (A View from the Bridge, Talk Radio and Betrayal). He has won equally high praise as well as Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his work in film and television. His most recent film credits include Salt opposite Angelina Jolie; Every Day co-starring with Helen Hunt; Repo Man with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker; and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock. Among his many other feature film credits are: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Painted Veil; The Sum of All Fears and Kate & Leopold. In 2005, Schreiber made his feature film directorial debut with Everything is Illuminated, which he adapted from Jonathan Safran's best-selling novel of the same name.

The Drama Desk nominees will receive their Official Nomination Certificates at a gala Cocktail Reception on Thursday, May 5, 3:30 to 5:45 PM, at a midtown venue to be announced.

The 2010/2011 Nominating Committee for the Drama Desk Awards includes: Barbara Siegel (Chairperson),; Jason Clark, Slant Magazine,; Anita Gates, Freelance, The New York Times; Lawrence Harbison, Senior Editor & Columnist for Smith & Kraus, Inc.; Gerard Raymond, Freelance, Back Stage, Richard Ridge, Broadway Beat TV; and Douglas Strassler,, Show Business Weekly.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 to explore key issues in the theater and to bring together critics and writers in an organization to support the ongoing development of theater in New York. The organization began presenting its awards in 1955, and it is the only critics organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition between Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories.

This year's 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards promises to be the biggest and most widely seen in its history. The awards ceremony will be part of a gala dinner celebration held Monday, May 23, 2011 in the elegant Hammerstein Ballroom at Manhattan Center, 34th Street and 8th Avenue. The awards ceremony will begin at 9:00 PM following the gala sit-down dinner that will begin at 6:45 PM. The awards ceremony, to be hosted by Harvey Fierstein, co-star and writer of Broadway's hit musical revival, La Cage Aux Folles, will be filmed in HD for a television special that will be given two primetime airings plus four additional national broadcasts on OVATION, the national cable network dedicated to arts culture in America, between June 2 and June 15, 2011.

The TV special will be produced by the multi award-winning independent Production Company Heflin Filmworks (America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back; Manhunters). Lance Heflin will produce the TV special and Mark Stroman will serve as the TV Executive Producer. Terry Rohnke (Saturday Night Live) will be the Television Director. Marilyn Munder is the Talent Consultant. Step Forward Entertainment Group Ltd. (Talent Management and Production) is the executive producing company for the Awards; Robert R. Blume is Managing Partner, Princess Rivera serves as Associate Producer for Television Projects and Allison H. Cohen is Staff Administrator.

Jeff Kalpak, who has directed the awards ceremony for the past 15 seasons, will serve in the same capacity this year for the live event. Rich Bittner is the Line Producer. Lauren Class Schneider, who produced the Drama Desk Awards for the past 14 years, will return as Consulting Producer. Robert R. Blume is the Executive Producer of the 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards.

Christopher Raphael, veteran Broadway Event Planner, has been retained as Gala Event Producer to oversee the production of special events for the 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards. He will also serve as coordinator between the Drama Desk Awards and Mark Stroman and Heflin Filmworks, creating special events and activities promoting the awards ceremony, seeking branding opportunities for the Drama Desk Awards, and assembling a Gift Giveaway lounge at the awards ceremony and gala dinner.

Red Carpet Productions and its principal, Renee McCurry join the Drama Desk Awards team as an Associate Producer along with Les Schecter and Joseph Callari, a partner with Mr. Blume and Frank Fiorucci in Global Arts, a project of Eightonal Coalition, Inc, the 501 (c)3 not-for-profit entity for the Drama Desk Awards whose mission is to support the arts and young artists. The public relations and marketing for the 56th Annual Drama Desk will be handled by LS Communications and Springer Associates Public Relations.

The Board of Directors of the Drama Desk is composed of Isa Goldberg, President; Leslie (Hoban) Blake, Vice President; Charles Wright, Treasurer and 2nd Vice President; Richard Ridge, Secretary, Arlene Epstein, Elysa Gardner, Randy Gener, John Istel, David Kaufman, Sam Norkin. and William Wolf.


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