The 2014 Tony Award for outstanding regional theater will be presented to off-Broadway’s game-changing Signature Theatre Company, which recently moved into a new three-stage complex on West 42nd Street. The group is best known for presenting full seasons of work by selected playwrights-in-residence such as Edward Albee and Horton Foote and for its $25 across-the-board ticket price. The award was announced this morning by the Tony Awards Administration Committee, which takes its cue on the prize from the American Theatre Critics Association. The nominees in the competitive awards will be announced tomorrow morning.
The honorary Regional Theater Tony was created in part to recognize nonprofit theaters around the U.S., which increasingly have served as launching pads for Broadway-bound plays and musicals. The Tony Awards themselves are restricted to shows running in the Broadway Theater District. The odd result has been that several NYC-based nonprofits have been recipients of the Regional Theatre award. Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, acknowledged this odd reality in their joint announcement. “Signature Theatre is an integral part of the theater landscape,” they said. “By dedicating each season to a single playwright, Signature Theatre offers audiences an unmatched explorative experience with the writer’s message across multiple bodies of work. We are honored to present them with the 2014 Regional Theatre Award.”
Signature was founded in 1991 by James Houghton, who splits his time between running the company and directing the theater program at The Juilliard School. The company’s Pershing Square Signature Center, designed by Frank Gehry, has quickly become one of the city’s most attractive cultural destinations, with its courtyard cafe, live jazz, bookstore and affordable, first-class productions.