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Guards at the Taj Wins Best New American Play at 2016 OBIE Awards

By: Maria Esteves – May 26, 2016

The 61st Annual 2016 OBIE Awards honoring Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theater exceptional achievements of 2015-2016, by two-time OBIE host and OBIE winning actress Lea Delaria (1998 OBIE recipient, On The Town) was held at the historic Webster Hall ballroom, New York, Monday, May 23, 7:00 pm. This year’s award presenters were Kate Burton, Colman Domingo, Tovah Feldshuh, Savion Glover, Danai Gurira, Natasha Katz, Lisa Kron, Norm Lewis, William Ivey Long, Elizabeth Marvel, Carrie Preston, Marlo Thomas, and Maura Tierney. The ceremony included the OBIE Awards memoriam tribute honoring the recently deceased with a live performance by Leslie Odom, Jr., Without You; and a special birthday celebration to OBIE host Lea Delaria.

The OBIE Awards founded in 1955 by theater editor Jerry Tallmer, Village Voice newsweekly, acknowledge the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. The name OBIE derives from the abbreviation for Off-Broadway (O.B.). Past recipients include Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Felicity Huffman, Viola Davis, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Edward Norton, and Sigourney Weaver. The judges may vote multiple OBIES in any category where outstanding achievement deserves recognition.

2016 OBIE Awards co-produced by The Village Voice and the American Theatre Wing were judged by:
Michael Feingold – OBIE Judge Chairman, columnist, The Village Voice
Quincy Tyler Bernstine – Actress, 2009 OBIE Award recipient in Ruined
Oliver Butler – Theater director, 2014 OBIE Award recipient for The Open House
Clint Ramos – Designer, 2013 OBIE Award recipient for Sustained Excellence in costume design
Juliet Rylance – Actress, 2010 OBIE Award recipient in Rosalind
Michael Sommers – Freelance theatre critic
Marilyn Stasio – Senior critic, Variety

This year’s OBIES included 37 awards within 10 categories. The following are the various awards and their winners:

Best New American Play

GUARDS AT THE TAJ, playwright by Rajiv Joseph - $1,000

Performance

CHRIS DAVIS in The Royale, (Lincoln Center Theater/Newhouse)

EMILY DONAHOE in The Christians, (Playwritghts Horizons)

GEORGIA ENGEL in John, (Signature Theater)

PASCALE ARMAND, AKOSUA BUSIA, ZAINAB JAH, LUPITA NYONG’O and SAYCON SENGBLOH ensemble of Eclipsed, (Public Theater)

JAYNE HOUDYSHELL in The Humans, (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

OMAR METWALLY and ARIAN MOAYED in Guards at the Taj, (Atlantic Theater)

BEN PLATT in Dear Evan Hansen, (Second Stage)

LUCAS CALEB ROONEY in Red Speedo, (NYTW)

TAMARA TUNIE in Familiar, (Playwrights Horizons)

Directing 

RACHEL CHAVKIN for The Royale, (Lincoln Center Theater/Newhouse)

MICHAEL LEIBENLUFT for I’ll Never Love Again, (Bushwick Starr)

Lifetime Achievement Award

CARMEN DE LAVALLADE, actress, choreographer and dancer

A.R. GURNEY, playwright

Playwriting

LUCAS HNATH for The Christians (Playwrights Horizons) and Red Speedo (NYTW)

STEPHEN KARAM for The Humans, (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

Best Design

RACHEL HAUCK for sustained excellence of set design

JASON LYONS for sustained excellence of lighting design

JAMES ORTIZ in The Woodsman (New World Stages)

BRAY POOR for sustained excellence of sound design

KAYE VOYCE for sustained excellence of costume design

Special Citations

ANNIE BAKER (playwright), SAM GOLD (director), MARK BARTON, ÁSTA BENNIE HOSTETTER, MIMI LIEN, NOAH MEASE and BRAY POOR (design team) in John

DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU and RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON in Skeleton Crew

Obie Grants

BEDLAM THEATRE – $4,000
NOOR THEATRE – $4,000
PROSPECT THEATER COMPANY – $4,000

The Ross Wetzsteon Award

NAATCO/NATIONAL ASIAN AMERICAN THEATRE COMPANY - $3,000

Musical Theatre

STEVEN LEVENSON, BENJ PASEK and JUSTIN PAUL in Dear Evan Hansen, (Second Stage)

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