The 61st annual Obie Awards, established by the Village Voice to acknowledge achievement in off-Broadway theater, named Rajiv Joseph’s gripping drama with humor Guards at the Taj as the best new play of the season. Guards was presented by the Atlantic Theatre Company and the award includes a $1,000 prize to the playwright.
The Obies, which sets no predetermined limit on the number of awards it will give out in any given season, also Monday evening presented awards in playwriting to Lucas Hnath for two plays, The Christians, presented by Playwrights Horizons, and Red Speedo, presented at the New York Theatre Workshop. and to Stephen Karam for The Humans, originally presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company and now running on Broadway, where it is a top contender for the Tony Award for best play.
An Obie for Musical Theater was presented to Steven Levenson (book) and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music & lyrics) for Dear Evan Hansen, which is expected to move to Broadway in the fall following its sold-out run at the Second Stage Theatre.
The Village Voice now runs the Obies with the American Theatre Wing, which also co-presents the Tony Awards (with the Broadway League). Lifetime Achievement Obies were presented to actor/dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and playwright A.R. Gurney at the ceremony, held Monday evening at Webster Hall and hosted by Lea DeLaria. This year’s Obies panel included Village Voice columnist and longtime Obie chairman Michael Feingold, actress Quincy Tyler Bernstine, director Oliver Butler, costume designer Clint Ramos, actress Juliet Rylance, Variety senior critic Marilyn Stasio and freelance theater critic Michael Sommers.
Here are the rest of the winners:
Rachel Chavkin, The Royale (Lincoln Center Theater)
Michael Leibenluft, I’ll Never Love Again (Bushwick Starr)
Khris Davis, The Royale
Emily Donahoe, The Christians (Playwrights Horizons)
Georgia Engel, John (Signature Theatre Company)
Ensemble, Eclipsed (The Public Theater): Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab
Jah, Lupita Nyong’o, Saycon Sengbloh
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (Roundabout Theatre Company)
Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed, Guards at the Taj (Atlantic Theater Company)
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen (Second Stage Theatre)
Lucas Caleb Rooney, Red Speedo
Tamara Tunie, Familiar (Playwrights Horizons)
Rachel Hauck, Sustained Excellence of Set Design
Jason Lyons, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design
James Ortiz, Puppet Design, The Woodsman (New World Stages)
Bray Poor, Sustained Excellence of Sound Design
Kaye Voyce, Sustained Excellence of Costume Design
Special Citations: Collaboration
Annie Baker (playwright), Sam Gold (director), and the design team of John: Mark Barton (lighting), Ásta Bennie Hostetter (costumes), Mimi Lien (set), Noah Mease (props), Bray Poor (sound)
Dominique Morisseau (playwright) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (director), Skeleton
Crew (Atlantic Theater Company)
Obie Grants ($4,000 prize to each theater)
Prospect Theatre Company
The Ross Wetzsteon Award ($3,000 prize)
NAATCO/National Asian American Theatre Company