The smash hit musical Hairspray swept the Drama Desk Awards on May 18, taking home 10 trophies, including Outstanding Musical. However, the Baz Luhrmann revival of La Bohème was the big winner in the design categories; winners included Catherine Martin for set design of a musical, Nigel Levings for lighting design, and Acme Sound Partners for sound design.

There were non-La Bohème design winners, as well. The Drama Desk splits the set design category in two, for musicals and plays. John Lee Beatty took the award for set design of a play, for his work on the Lincoln Center Theatre revival of Dinner at Eight. Also, William Ivey Long won in the costume category for his work on Hairspray.