Theatre for a New Audience's revival of W.S. Gilbert's 1877 play Engaged, which opened at the Lucille Lortel Theatre just over a year ago, was heavily lauded when the 50th annual Village Voice Obie Awards were handed out May 16 at Webster Hall. Considered part of the 2004–05 season because of a quirk in the theatrical calendar, the production garnered Jeremy Shamos a performance Obie and delivered design-category honors to John Lee Beatty (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Rui Rita (lighting), and Guy Sherman (sound).
In addition, Lanie Robertson's Woman Before a Glass took five Obies, while New York Theatre Workshop's re-examination of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler took four.
Following is a list of the 2005 Obie Award winners:
Performance: Rosemary Allen (Good Samaritans), Vivienne Benesch (Going to St. Ives), Larry Bryggman (Romance), L. Scott Caldwell (Going to St. Ives), LaChanze (Dessa Rose), Kieran Culkin (After Ashley), Jason Butler Harner (Hedda Gabler), Cherry Jones (Doubt), Elizabeth Marvel (Hedda Gabler), Mercedes Ruehl (Woman Before a Glass), and Jeremy Shamos (Engaged). Also awarded: Deidre O'Connell for sustained excellence.
Direction: Ivo van Hove (Hedda Gabler) and Dan Wackerman (Counsellor-at-Law). Also awarded: Doug Hughes for sustained excellence.
Playwriting: Caryl Churchill (A Number), Lynn Nottage (Fabulation), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt), and Christopher Shinn (Where Do We Live).
Design: John Lee Beatty (sets, Engaged), Willa Kim (costumes, Woman Before a Glass), Thomas Lynch (sets, Woman Before a Glass), Phil Monat (lighting, Woman Before a Glass), Rui Rita (lighting, Engaged), Guy Sherman (sound, Engaged), David Van Tieghem (sound, Woman Before a Glass), Jan Versweyveld (sets, Hedda Gabler), and Catherine Zuber (costumes, Engaged).
Special Citations: The Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas; Hell Meets Henry Halfway; and Sin: A Cardinal Deposed.
The Ross Wetzsteon Memorial Award: New Dramatists ($2,000).
Sustained Achievement: John Guare.
Obie Grants: 13P ($3,000), Epic Theatre Company ($3,000), and Little Theater at Tonic ($3,000).
Distinguished Emerging Playwright: Gina Gionfriddo ($1,000).
Margo Skinner Memorial Acting Scholarship: To be announced by Trinity Repertory Company ($1,000).
The Obies are a noncompetitive award created in 1956 by former Village Voice critic Jerry Tallmer. There are no formal nominations and the voting, done by committee, does not necessarily result in a single award to a single recipient. Indeed, Obie judges may choose to award multiple Obies in any category, configuration, or combination.
The 2005 Obie committee consisted of Village Voice theatre editor Charles McNulty, who served as chairman; two additional Village Voice theatre critics, Michael Feingold and Alexis Soloski; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel; three-time Obie winner Kathleen Chalfant; two-time Tony Award nominee André De Shields; Obie-winning actor and playwright David Greenspan; two-time Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega; and academician David Savran. The ceremony was produced by Eileen Phelan.