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SHUFFLE ALONG and THE HUMANS Top 2016 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards

The New York Drama Critics' Circle just announced its 2015-2016 Best Play and Best Musical: Stephen Karam's THE HUMANS and George C. Wolfe, Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's SHUFFLE ALONG, OR THE MAKING OF THE MUSICAL SENSATION OF 1921 AND ALL THAT FOLLOWED. The selections were made at the organization's 81st annual voting meeting.

Special citations were voted to Oskar Eustis of the Public Theater; Lois Smith, who appeared in the off-Broadway productions of JOHN and MARJORIE PRIME; and Ivo van Hove and Jan Versweyveld, who were represented on Broadway this season by A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and THE CRUCIBLE.

The awards will be presented at a private cocktail reception on Tuesday, May 17. The award for best play carries a cash prize of $2,500. The prize is made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation.

THE HUMANS, by Stephen Karam, directed by Joe Mantello, opened at the Roundabout Theatre Company on October 25, 2015, and closed January 3, 2016. The production transferred to Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre on February 18, 2016, where it is currently playing.

The ensemble cast, all of whom were featured in the original Off-Broadway production at Roundabout Theatre Company, includes Cassie Beck (Aimee), Reed Birney (Erik), Jayne Houdyshell (Deirdre), Lauren Klein (Fiona "Momo" Blake), Arian Moayed (Richard) and Sarah Steele (Brigid).

The angst, anguish and amity of the American middle class are first coaxed - then shoved - into the light in this uproarious, hopeful, and heart-breaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake (Birney) has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter's apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex, and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the Blake clan's deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed, with humor and compassion, in this new American classic.

SHUFFLE ALONG, book by George C. Wolfe, music by Eubie Blake, lyrics by Noble Sissle, original book by F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles, directed by George C. Wolfe, currently plays at Broadway's Music Box Theatre, where it had its world premiere on April 28, 2016.

The re-imagined version of the 1921 musical SHUFFLE ALONG, one of the earliest stage hits starring, written and directed by African-Americans, is directed by George C. Wolfe and choreographed by Savion Glover.

Joining six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Tony Award winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter, and Tony Award nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry in the 34-member cast are Brooks Ashmanskas, Alexandria Bradley, Darlesia Cearcy, Leo Ash Evans, Amber Iman, Adrienne Warren, Phillip Attmore, Darius de Haas, C.K. Edwards, Afra Hines, Curtis Holland, Jason Holley, Adrienne Howard, Lee Howard, Kendrick Jones, Lisa LaTouche, Alicia Lundgren, J.C. Montgomery,Erin N. Moore, Janelle Neal, Brittany Parks, Arbender Robinson, Karissa Royster, Britton Smith, Zurin Villanueva, Christian Dante White, Joseph Wiggan, Pamela Yasutake, and Richard Riaz Yoder.

In May 1921, the new musical SHUFFLE ALONG became the unlikeliest of hits, significantly altering the face of the Broadway musical as well as that of New York City. By the time SHUFFLE ALONG stumbled into town after a back-breaking pre-Broadway tour, it was deeply in debt and set to open at a remote Broadway house on West 63rd Street. In a season full of spectacles, such as Sally - a Ziegfeld musical - and another edition of George White's Scandals, SHUFFLE ALONG's failure was almost a foregone conclusion. New York City was still in the throes of the Depression of 1920. And despite being celebrated vaudeville performers, Miller and Lyles and Sissle and Blake had never performed on Broadway, much less written a musical. But with an infectious jazz score and exuberant dancing, SHUFFLE ALONG ignited not just Broadway but all of New York City. George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, Langston Hughes, and famed critic George Jean Nathan were among the many fans who repeatedly flocked to West 63rd Street to see a cast which - during its run of 504 performances - featured such incipient luminaries as Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Fredi Washington, and Adelaide Hall. Because of SHUFFLE ALONG, Uptown and Downtown met and became one.

The New York Drama Critics' Circle comprises 22 drama critics from daily newspapers, magazines, wire services and websites based in the New York metropolitan area. The New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, which has been awarded every year since 1936 to the best new play of the season (with optional awards for foreign or American plays, musicals and performers), is the nation's second oldest theater award, after the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Adam Feldman, theater critic for Time Out New York, has served as president of the NYDCC since 2005. Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post serves as vice president; Joe Dziemianowicz of the Daily News is treasurer.

In addition to Feldman, Vincentelli, and Dziemianowicz, the members of the New York Drama Critics' Circle are: Hilton Als, The New Yorker; Melissa Rose Bernardo,Entertainment Weekly; David Cote, Time Out New York; Michael Feingold, TheaterMania; Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record; Elysa Gardner, USA Today; Jeremy Gerard, Deadline; Jesse Green, New York; Christopher Kelly, The Star-Ledger; David Rooney; Hollywood Reporter; Frank Scheck; New York Post; David Sheward, ArtsInNY; John Simon, Yonkers Tribune; Marilyn Stasio, Variety; Zachary Stewart, TheaterMania; Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal; Matt Windman, amNewYork; Linda Winer, Newsday; and Richard Zoglin,Time. Emeritus members include David Finkle, Brian Scott Lipton, Jesse Oxfeld, Michael Sommers and Steven Suskin.

For more information on the New York Drama Critics' Circle and for details on the vote, visit www.dramacritics.org.


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