The 56th ANNUAL VILLAGE VOICE OBIE AWARDS CEREMONY
MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011 AT WEBSTER HALL, NYC
DAVID HYDE PIERCE & S. EPATHA MERKERSON
The Awards Will Be Presented By:
ROBERT SEAN LEONARD
A special performance by
From the original cast of Rent.
Performing songs from Rent and his musical Without You
The Village Voice, the nation’s largest alternative weekly newspaper, announced that the 56th Annual Obie Awards will take place on Monday, May 16, 2011 at Webster Hall in the East Village (125 East 11th Street). The awards will be co-hosted by S. Epatha Merkerson and David Hyde Pierce.
The Village Voice is proud to welcome two-time Village Voice Obie Award winner and Detroit native S. EPATHA MERKERSON back to the Obies as the co-host of this year's ceremony. She's an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and NAACP Award winner and has earned critical acclaim for her brilliant work in theater, film, and television. During her 16 years on the show Law & Order, for which she won multiple awards for her flawless portrayal of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, Epatha appeared in more episodes of the series than any other cast member during the show’s run.
On stage, Merkerson was last seen on Broadway in Come Back Little Sheba, and she reprised her role for the L.A. production in 2007. Off Broadway, she has mesmerized us with her performances in plays that include Suzan-Lori Parks’s F**king A, August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play The Piano Lesson, the Young Playwrights Festival’s production of I’m Not Stupid (Obie Award), The Old Settler, and Cheryl West’s play Birdie Blue (Obie Award, Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, and Drama League Distinguished Performance Award).
She recently completed production on a comedy film, We the Peeples. Her other memorable films include Lackawanna Blues, The Rising Place, Radio, Jersey Girl, Random Hearts, Terminator II: Judgment Day, Jacob’s Ladder, Navy Seals, Loose Cannons, Black Snake Moan, Slipstream, The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, and Mother and Child.
And who could be more perfect as a co-host than a valiant and versatile actor who will soon be seen in a film released in May by Magnolia Pictures called The Perfect Host — DAVID HYDE PIERCE.
The Emmy and Tony Award winner made his professional and Broadway debut in 1982, as the waiter in Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy. He went on to create roles in the Off-Broadway productions of Mark O’Donnell's That’s It Folks!, Richard Greenberg’s The Author’s Voice and The Maderati, Zero Positive, and Jules Feiffer’s Elliot Loves and The Heidi Chronicles.
In 2005, Hyde Pierce originated the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python's Spamalot, written by Eric Idle, with music by Idle and John Du Prez. In 2007, he won the Tony Award and earned other nominations for his role as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in the musical comedy Curtains, before going on to appear in MTC’s revival of the 1930s comedy Accent on Youth. Most recently, he appeared in the acclaimed London and Broadway productions of David Hirson's La Bete.
Hyde Pierce’s film credits include Bright Lights, Big City, Crossing Delancey, Little Man Tate, Sleepless in Seattle, Wolf, Nixon, Isn't She Great, Wet, Hot, American Summer, Full Frontal, Down With Love, A Bug’s Life, Osmosis Jones, Treasure Planet, and the Sundance Film Festival Selection The Perfect Host, which will be released by Magnolia Pictures in 2011.
His television credits include a short but happy stint on Norman Lear’s political satire The Powers That Be, and a long but happy stint on Frasier, for which he earned four Emmy Awards and the American Comedy, Television Critics, Viewers for Quality Television, and Screen Actors Guild awards.
At the ceremony, Obie Award winner ANTHONY RAPP, best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the rock opera Rent, will perform the iconic anthem written by Jonathan Larson, “Seasons of Love,” and another song with his band from Rapp’s musical Without You.
A writer as well, Anthony wrote a book entitled Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent, about his struggle to balance the demands of life in the theater with his responsibility to his family during his mother’s battle with cancer. He adapted the book into a one-man show titled Without You.
Anthony moves aesthetically though several disciplines: stage, film, television, and recording artist. He is best known in theater for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation. In film, he’s known for Adventures in Babysitting, School Ties, Dazed and Confused, Man of the Century, David Searching, Road Trip, and A Beautiful Mind, and on television he has appeared on The X-Files, The Beach Boys: An American Family, Kidnapped, and Law & Order: SVU.
For the past 56 years, the Village Voice Obie Awards, founded by Jerry Tallmer in 1956, have honored the best of Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Structured with informal categories that change annually, the Village Voice Obie Awards recognize persons and productions of excellence. Unlike most theater awards, the Village Voice Obie Awards list no nominations publicly. In the conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges may give several Obies in each category, and may even invent new categories to reward exceptional artistic merit.
The Voice’s chief theater critic, Michael Feingold, who chairs the Obie Awards judges committee again this year, was honored as a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. The Pulitzer jury recognized Feingold for his engaging, authoritative drama reviews that fuse passion and knowledge as he helps readers understand what makes a play or a performance successful.
His fellow judges are Voice critic Alexis Soloski and four guest judges: critic Hilton Als of The New Yorker; playwright David Henry Hwang, a three-time Obie Award winner for his plays F.O.B., Golden Child, and Yellow Face; director Evan Yionoulis, an Obie Award winner for her production of Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain; and critic Andy Propst, of TheaterMania/AmericanTheaterWeb.com (and a frequent Voice contributor); he is also serving as secretary to the committee.
Many of the most celebrated names in theater, film, and television say their Obie Award was the first major recognition of their professional career. Past winners include such well-known stars as Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Felicity Huffman, Viola Davis, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Tony Kushner, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Edward Norton, and Sigourney Weaver, to name a few.
Because the Obies always strive to recognize artists of exceptional ability early in their careers, the award serves to encourage, support, and in some sense nurture youthful talent. The Obies help shine an important light on theater artists who are breaking new ground or just breaking through in their careers. In addition, the Obies honor those who have given years of service to the theater, with awards for Sustained Excellence and Lifetime Achievement.
Once again, the 2011 Obies will also honor the Off-Broadway theater community by presenting its annual theater grants, announced live at the ceremony.
Tickets for the Village Voice’s 56th Annual Obie Awards are $25 and are on sale now through TicketFly at obies.villagevoice.com. For more information please visit obies.villagevoice.com.
About Webster Hall:
Webster Hall has been the premiere entertainment venue and gathering place for the people of NYC since 1886. Designed by Charles Rentz, the Hall was used by a variety of groups for political rallies and meetings, and for pleasure. Webster Hall was always a popular place for gathering of the working class and was the site of significant events in social and labor history. Historical events such as Margaret Sanger’s march of Lawrence workers, and the founding convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and the orations of Emma Goldman further added to the significance of the hall. During Prohibition, as liquor consumption was driven underground, Webster Hall became a speakeasy, and the legends of the parties grew. Moreover, gay and lesbian celebrations at Webster Hall could continue without harassment, as long as the police were paid off properly. Rumors circulated that the hall was owned by Al Capone, making it seem all the more edgy and appealing.
By the end of the 1950s, RCA converted the building into their East Coast recording studio and called it the “Webster Hall Studios.” Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, and Julie Andrews all sang at the studios, and several musicals, including Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof, were also recorded here.Webster Hall reemerged on May 1, 1980 as The Ritz nightclub, and until its relocation in 1986, it was a leading venue for rock shows in New York City. The roster of Ritz performers included U2, Madonna, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Prince, Sting, Guns N’ Roses, KISS, among many others. In 1990 the building was purchased by the Ballinger Family from Toronto, and the venue, again called “Webster Hall,” became a dance club, which it remains today. www.websterhall.com
About The Village Voice:
Founded by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer in October 1955, The Village Voice introduced free-form, high-spirited, and passionate journalism into the public discourse. As the nation's first and largest alternative newsweekly, the Voice maintains the same tradition of no-holds-barred reporting and criticism it first embraced when it began publishing over 55 years ago. The recipient of three Pulitzer prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, among others, the Voice has earned a reputation for its groundbreaking investigations of New York City politics and for its expert coverage of New York's cultural scene. Writing and reporting on local and national politics, with opinionated culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews, daily web dispatches, comprehensive entertainment listings, and unrivaled classifieds, the Voice is the authoritative source on all that is New York.
The Village Voice has also created such celebrated events as the Siren Music Festival, kNow Music Series, and Choice Eats, as well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year, including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, Film Critics poll, Best of NYC, and the paper’s Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Arts Preview guides. The Voice is New York's most influential, must-read alternative newspaper, in both print and online at www.villagevoice.com, where the site averages 1.5 million unique users each month.
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