Drama Desk Awards
Awarded forExcellence in New York theatre
CountryUnited States
Presented byDrama Desk
First awarded1955; 68 years ago (1955), as the Vernon Rice Awards

The Drama Desk Award is an annual prize recognizing excellence in New York theatre. First bestowed in 1955 as the Vernon Rice Award, the prize initially honored Off-Broadway productions, as well as Off-off-Broadway, and those in the vicinity. Following the 1964 renaming as the Drama Desk Awards, Broadway productions were included beginning with the 1968–69 award season.[1][2] The awards are considered a significant American theater distinction.[3]


The Drama Desk organization was formed in 1949 by a group of New York theater critics, editors, reporters and publishers, in order to make the public aware of the vital issues concerning the theatrical industry. They debuted the presentations of the Vernon Rice Awards. The name honors the New York Post critic Vernon Rice, who had pioneered Off-Broadway coverage in the New York press. The name was changed for the 1963–1964 awards season to the Drama Desk Awards.[1][4][5]

In 1974, the Drama Desk became incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. In 1975, the Drama Desk announcement of winners included the nominees as well.[4][6]

The Drama Desk has more than 100 members, including theatre critics, reporters and editors who cover New York theater and vote on the awards. Membership consists of two categories: active (voting) membership and participating membership.[7]

All of the Drama Desk officers and nominating committee members perform their various services for the organization on a voluntary basis. The nominating committee generally meets twice a month to discuss the many eligible shows members are responsible for seeing. They then nominate the productions on which the entire membership will vote. What sets the organization apart is that the awards are voted on "by media people only without any vested interests in the results", according to the organization.

Previous winners include Bernadette Peters,[8] Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among many others.

The Drama Desk Awards have contributed to the ongoing success of major stars, playwrights and designers, while also identifying newcomers. The Drama Desk was the first New York theater organization to give awards to talents such as Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, and George C. Scott. Plays like Driving Miss Daisy, Other People's Money, Steel Magnolias, and The Boys in the Band built momentum with the help of Drama Desk wins.

In keeping with its original mission, the organization sponsors guest panel luncheons with theater professionals. Panels address topics of current interest: covering the season on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway, with the aim of prompting informative and stimulating discussion.[4]


Season Nominations announced date Nomination announcement host(s) Awards ceremony Location Awards ceremony host(s) Ref
2006–07 April 26, 2007 James Naughton & Beth Leavel May 20, 2007 LaGuardia Concert Hall Kristin Chenoweth [9]
2007–08 April 28, 2008 Bebe Neuwirth & Len Cariou May 18, 2008 Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff & Larry Pressgrove [10]
2008–09 April 27, 2009 Jim Dale & Faith Prince May 17, 2009 Harvey Fierstein [11]
2009–10 May 3, 2010 May 23, 2010 Patti LuPone [12]
2010–11 April 29, 2011 Audra McDonald & Liev Schreiber May 23, 2011 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City Harvey Fierstein [13]
2011–12 April 27, 2012 Donna Murphy & Brian d'Arcy James June 3, 2012 The Town Hall, New York City Brooke Shields & Brian d'Arcy James [14]
2012–13 April 29, 2013 Linda Lavin & John Lloyd Young May 19, 2013 [15]
2013–14 April 25, 2014 Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Fran Drescher June 1, 2014 Laura Benanti [16]
2014–15 April 23, 2015 Judith Light & Jessie Mueller May 31, 2015 [17]
2015–16 April 28, 2016 Matthew Morrison & Vanessa Williams June 5, 2016 Michael Urie [18]
2016–17 April 27, 2017 Laura Benanti & Javier Muñoz June 4, 2017 [19]
2017–18 April 26, 2018 Jane Krakowski & Tituss Burgess June 3, 2018 [20]
2018–19 April 25, 2019 Roma Torre & Frank DiLella June 2, 2019 [21]
2019–20 April 21, 2020 Seth Rudetsky & James Wesley June 13, 2020 Virtual Ceremony Frank DiLella [22]
2021–22 May 16, 2022 George Takei June 14, 2022 Sardi's Renée Elise Goldsberry [23]

Award categories

Performance categories

Show and technical categories

Special awards

Retired awards

See also

Other theatre awards in New York:


  1. ^ a b Calta, Louis (July 2, 1969). "Jones Is Named For Top Award By Drama Desk". The New York Times. p. 34. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  2. ^ McKinley, Jesse. " Modern Millie Leads Drama Desk Awards" The New York Times, May 20, 2002. Retrieved June 8, 2009
  3. ^ "Baylor's Traveling Lady Production Receives Drama Desk Nomination", Baylor University, April 28, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2009
  4. ^ a b c "A Brief History Of The Drama Desk Awards". DramaDesk. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Zolotow, Sam. "Critics Hail Off Broadway Work: Elmer [sic] Rice Awards Are Presented by Drama Desk", The New York Times, May 19, 1964, p.42
  6. ^ Riedel, Michael. "Backstage brouhaha at the Drama Desk Awards" Archived 2008-06-25 at the Wayback Machine, Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2009
  7. ^ "Nominating Committee & Current Members". Drama Desk. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  8. ^ "Bernadette Peters Drama Desk Awards and Nominations" dramadesk.org, accessed May 19, 2013
  9. ^ Bacalzo, Dan. " Kristin Chenoweth Will Host Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, March 29, 2008
  10. ^ Bacalzo, Dan. " Title of Show Cast to Host 2008 Drama Desk Awarda" theatermania.com, April 22, 2008
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Harvey Fierstein to Host Drama Desk Awards" Archived May 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, March 25, 2009
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew."Red, Memphis, Bridge, Fences and La Cage Win Drama Desk Awards" Archived March 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, May 23, 2010
  13. ^ BBW News Desk. "2011 Drama Desk Award Winners Announced!" BroadwayWorld.com, May 23, 2011
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew. "'Once', 'Tribes', 'Follies', 'Salesman', Audra McDonald, Danny Burstein and More Are Drama Desk Winners" Archived 2012-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Playbill, June 3, 2012
  15. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew. Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, Pippin, Matilda, Vanya and Sonia Win Drama Desk Awards" Archived June 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, May 19, 2013
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew."Winners of 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' and 'All the Way' Win Top Prizes" Archived June 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill, June 1, 2014
  17. ^ Gans, Andrew and Gioia, Michael. "Drama Desk Award Winners Announced; 'Hamilton' Wins Seven Awards", Playbill, May 31, 2015
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Vanessa Williams and Matthew Morrison Announce Drama Desk Nominations Today", Playbill, April 28, 2016
  19. ^ Cox, Gordon (2017-06-05). "Drama Desk Awards 2017: Bette Midler, 'Oslo' Take Top Honors (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  20. ^ BWW News Desk. "Save the Date! 2018 Drama Desk Awards Reserve The Town Hall". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Michael Urie Will Return to Host 2019 Drama Desk Awards". Playbill. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  22. ^ "65th Annual Drama Desk Awards Take Place June 13". Playbill. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  23. ^ "Photos: Go Inside the 66th Annual Drama Desk Awards". Broadway World. Retrieved June 15, 2022.