Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, and Appropriate, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play about an unhappy family reunion, were among the big winners at the 59th annual Village Voice Obie Awards, presented May 19 at Webster Hall. Fun Home took home Obies for its music (Jeanine Tesori), book and lyrics (Lisa Kron), and direction (Sam Gold). In addition, ten-year-old Sydney Lucas was honored for her performance and she sang a number from the show at the ceremony. “I’ve wanted to be an actress from as long as I can remember,” she said in her acceptance speech, “like since I was four. That’s half my lifetime, so it’s a long time to me.” Lucas is the youngest winner in Obie history. Fun Home had a limited engagement at the Public Theater and has also won awards from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Outer Critics Circle. There are reports it might be moving to Broadway next season.
Appropriate, produced at Signature Theatre Company, won for its direction (Liesl Tommy), performance by cast member Johanna Day, and playwright Jacobs-Jenkins took the award for Best New American Play which also included his other work An Octoroon presented by SoHo Rep. Another Signature Theatre Company production, The Open House also won for author Will Eno’s script and Oliver Butler’s direction. Eno is currently represented on Broadway with The Realistic Joneses.
The awards were hosted by Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones) and Tamara Tunie (Law and Order: SVU). Estelle Parsons, who recently appeared on Broadway in The Velocity of Autumn, received the Lifetime Achievement Award and regaled the rowdy crowd with anecdotes of her early career Off-Broadway including appearing in a revue with one audience consisting of four people — who left at intermission.
Presenters included Betsy Aidem (All the Way), Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots, Casa Valentina), Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Andy Karl (Rocky), playwright David Bar Katz, Cristin Milioti (Once), Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County), and Stephen Trask (co-creator, music and lyrics, Hedwig and the Angry Inch).
The 2014 Obie Award Committee is composed of critic Michael Feingold (chairman); playwright-composer Kirsten Childs; Nicky Paraiso, director of programming for The Club at La MaMa and curator of the annual La MaMa Moves!; Tony winning actress Tonya Pinkins (Caroline or Change, Jelly’s Last Jam); critic Michael Sommers (new Jersey Newsroom); and fight director Rock Sordelet.
Here is a list of the winners:
Marylouise Burke; Sustained excellence of performance
Johanna Day; Appropriate (Signature)
John Ellison Conlee; The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence (Playwrights Horizons)
K. Todd Freeman; Fetch Clay, Make Man (NYTW)
John Earl Jelks; Sunset Baby (Labyrinth) / Fetch Clay, Make Man (NYTW)
Mia Katigbak; Awake and Sing (NAATCO)
Sydney Lucas; Fun Home (Public Theater)
Chris Myers; An Octoroon (SoHo Rep)
Larry Pine; A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney (SoHo Rep)
Will Eno; The Open House (Signature)
Lisa Kron (author), Jeanine Tesori (composer), and Sam Gold (director); Fun Home (Public Theater)
James Macdonald; Love and Information (NYTW)
Oliver Butler; The Open House (Signature)
Liesl Tommy; Appropriate (Signature)
Ben Rubin (projections); Arguendo (Elevator Repair Service @ Public Theater)
Emmanuel Brown and Sonya Tayeh (fight direction and choreography); Kung Fu (Signature)
Eric Southern (lighting design); The Correspondent (Rattlestick)
Justin Townsend; Sustained excellence of lighting design
Mallory Catlett; This Was the End (Chocolate Factory)
Heather Christian (music), Jiyoun Chang (lighting) and Hannah Wasileski (projections); The World Is Round (Ripe Time @ BAM Fisher)
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Lucy Thurber; The Hill Town Plays
The Ross Wetzsteon Award
Abrons Arts Center
48 Hours in Harlem
Best New American Play
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; Appropriate (Signature) and An Octoroon (SoHo Rep)