Camaraderie, positivity and lots of theater love filled the air at the 29th annual Lucille Lortel Awards Sunday at the NYU Skirball Center in downtown Manhattan.
Hosts Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, currently staring in their own limited Off-Broadway engagement "Annapurna," told Variety it was great to be returning to their live theater roots.
"And to be able to tell the story in an unbroken arc without someone yelling cut," Mullally added.
The two joked that the next show they would do would be called "Summer of 69," with no apostrophe. "It'll be the two of us 69-ing for 90 minutes," Mullally joked. "Every once in a while one of us will lift our head and sing a song."
Uzo Aduba, star of "Orange is the New Black" and a nominee for her performance in the musical "Venice," said she felt fortunate to be a part of the project, especially one that she'd stuck with since it began in Kansas City. Aduba couldn't talk about her future plans, but promised something new and exciting after the premiere of OITNB's second season in July.
Presenter Anthony Rapp, current star of "If/Then" on Broadway with Idina Menzel, said that working with Menzel is a "dream" and the audience response to the show has been great, but Off-Broadway still held a special place in his heart. "I've been doing Off-Broadway theater since I first arrived in New York after high school," Rapp said. "It's been a very important part of my life and career." What's special about Off-Broadway is not that it's not-Broadway, but that the shows can be more experimental.
"You don't have to always reach such a broad audience," Rapp said. "You can hone in on things that are maybe a little more edgy or dangerous or innovative. You don't have to worry if it appeals to people from all over. That makes it very special."
Barrett Wilbert Weed, the current star of "Heathers" and one of the evening's nominees, talked about meeting Winona Ryder in L.A. when "Heathers" was performing there. "She is such a kind, generous woman," Weed said, and added that when she asked Ryder for tips on the character of Veronica, Ryder told her they were different people, and she should make the character her own.
Sarah Paulson presented the Lifetime achievement award to her mentor, producer Robyn Goodman. "Robyn saved my life," she told the audience.
Other guests at the Lucille Lortel Awards included Dan Butler, Michael Cerveris, Nick Cordero, Kathryn Erbe, America Ferrera, Adam Jacobs, Nikki M. James, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Tracy Letts, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Peet, Kelli O'Hara, Sophie Okonedo, Laura Osnes, Vincent Piazza, Lily Rabe, Courtney Reed, Anika Noni Rose, Morgan Saylor, Corey Stoll, and Fred Weller.