(From the Associated Press, 4/12—follow the link for list)
Drama: "Next to Normal," music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, a rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals. (Moved into contention by the board within the drama category.) Finalists: "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," by Kristoffer Diaz, a play invoking the exaggerated role-playing of professional wrestling to explore themes from globalization to ethnic stereotyping, as the audience becomes both intimate insider and ringside spectator; "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," by Rajiv Joseph, a play about the chaotic Iraq war that uses a network of characters, including a caged tiger, to ponder violent, senseless death, blending social commentary with tragicomic mayhem, and "In the Next Room or the vibrator play," by Sarah Ruhl, which mixes comedy and drama as it examines the medical practice of a 19th-century American doctor and confronts questions of female sexuality and emancipation.
Criticism: Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post for her approach to dance criticism, illuminating a range of issues and topics with provocative comments and original insights. Finalists: Michael Feingold of The Village Voice, a New York City weekly, for his drama reviews that fuse passion and knowledge as he helps readers understand what makes a play or a performance successful; A.O. Scott of The New York Times for film reviews that embrace a wide spectrum of movies and often explore their connection to larger issues in society or the arts.
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