From 1918 to 2006, the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 2 to March 1, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year. The decision was made, however, that the 2007 Prize would consider works staged during an eligibility period of January 1 to December 31, 2006—thus bringing the schedule for the Drama Prize in line with those of the other prizes.
The drama jury, which consists of one academic and four critics, attends plays in New York and in regional theaters. The Pulitzer board has the authority to overrule the jury's choice, however, as happened in 1986 when the jury chose the CIVIL warS to receive the prize, but due to the board's opposition no award was given.
In 1955, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. pressured the prize jury into presenting the Prize to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which the jury considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees ("amateurishly constructed... from the stylistic points of view annoyingly pretentious"), instead of Clifford Odets' The Flowering Peach (their preferred choice) or The Bad Seed, their second choice.Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by that award's committee. However, the committee's selection was overruled by the award's advisory board, the trustees of Columbia University, because of the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes. Had Albee been awarded, he would be tied with Eugene O'Neill for the most Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (four).
Of Thee I Sing, Sunday in the Park with George, and Next to Normal are the only musicals that won the Pulitzer Prize and did not win the Tony Award for Best Musical. However, Of Thee I Sing opened when the Tony Awards did not exist.
The award goes to the playwright, although production of the play is also taken into account. In the case of a musical being awarded the prize, the composer, lyricist and book writer are generally the recipients. An exception to this was the first Pulitzer ever awarded to a musical: when Of Thee I Sing won in 1932, book authors George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, as well as lyricist Ira Gershwin, were cited as the winners, while composer George Gershwin's contribution was overlooked by the committee. The reason given was that the Pulitzer Prize for Drama is a dramatic award, and not a musical one. However, by 1950 the Pulitzer committee included composer Richard Rodgers as a recipient when South Pacific won the award, in recognition of music as an integral and important part of the theatrical experience.
¹Years given indicate the year that the Pulitzer Prize was won and not necessarily the year that musical had its New York opening.
^Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich & Erika J. Fischer. The Pulitzer Prize Archive: A History and Anthology of Award-Winning Materials in Journalism, Letters, and Arts München: K.G. Saur, 2008. ISBN 3-598-30170-7ISBN 9783598301704 p. 246
^The Pulitzer committee recommended Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? *, but the Pulitzer board, who have sole discretion in awarding the prize, rejected the recommendation, due to the play's perceived vulgarity, and no award was given instead. Klein, Alvin. "Albee's 'Tiny Alice,' The Whole Enchilada." The New York Times 24 May 1998: CT11.
^Flinn, Denny Martin. Musical! A Grand Tour. Schirmer, 1 edition (April 17, 1997), pages 230-231. ISBN 0-02-864610-X