Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pulitzer Pulls Rabbit Out Of Its Hat

Pulitzer Pulls Rabbit Out Of Its Hat

Despite not even having been nominated, David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole was yesterday awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Now being produced at regional theatres throughout the United States (as well as abroad), Rabbit Hole was first presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway from January through April 2006 at the Biltmore Theatre. While the play was Tony nominated for Best Play, it ultimately lost to The History Boys, a British work. However, its star Cynthia Nixon would win the Tony for Best Actress in a Play.

The three plays that were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize included A Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes, Bulrusher by Eisa Davis, and Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert. Rarely is a non-nominated work ever selected by the Pulitzer committee, but this indeed was one of those years.

I took in Rabbit Hole when it was playing on Broadway last year. To be honest, I thought it was simply OK. While it was poignant and provided uniformly good performances, I didn’t think it rose to any great heights, nor do I think it deserving of a Pulitzer.

Completely overlooked were two outstanding musicals (and yes, musicals have previously been awarded the Pulitzer honor): Grey Gardens and Spring Awakening. Ironically, the latter features a breathtaking performance by an actor who figured prominently in Rabbit Hole: John Gallagher, Jr.

Unfortunately, the Pulitzer committee settled for safe.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Spring Awakening (The SOB Review) (March 3, 2007)
Grey Gardens (The SOB Review) (February 25, 2006)
The Tonys: If I Could Vote....for Best Play (June 3, 2006)

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At 17 April, 2007, Anonymous Corey, The Bullroar Report said...

Not having seen Rabbit Hole I have no idea whether it is worthy or not, but the process does seem suspect. I think the board didn't want to come out of the room with another year with no winner. They should have just let it be empty if what you say in your post is true.

Ah well.

At 17 April, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Corey, Given that The New York Times's Ben Brantley was among the five jurors recommending the recipient of this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and given his rare, gushing review when Rabbit Hole debuted last year on Broadway, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by the selection.

But it's also interesting to see the perspective of another theatre critic, The Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout, whose perspective is similar to mine.

At 17 April, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Post Script: While the full Pulitzer Board consists of 17 members (none of whom are remotely associated with theatre), they take their recommendations from a five member jury of theatre types including:
Ben Brantley, chief drama critic, The New York Times (Chair)
Kimberly W. Benston, Francis B. Gummere Professor of English, Haverford College
Karen D'Souza, drama critic, San Jose Mercury News
Rohan Preston, theater critic, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul
Paula Vogel, playwright and professor of English, Brown University

While I'm unfamiliar with D'Souza and Benston, I can tell you that Mr. Preston is a decent-enough critic, who unlike Mr. Brantley tends to write fairly balanced reviews (although I don't recall ever seeing one for Rabbit Hole in any form). Ms. Vogel, of course, is the estimable playwright who gave us the wonderful The Baltimore Waltz.

At 18 April, 2007, Blogger Cameron said...

Rabbit Hole is a wonderful work, but I would've preferred to see something like Nilaja Sun's highly affecting No Child... or Keith Bunin's beautiful The Busy World is Hushed recognized.

At 18 April, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Cameron. I didn't not like Rabbit Hole, but I agree that there were many other works that were preferable.


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