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Hyde Pierce and Merkerson to Host Obie Awards

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Hyde Pierce and Merkerson to Host Obie Awards
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The Obie Awards, which honor the best in Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater, have announced the lineup for the upcoming awards ceremony. Two-time Obie winner S. Epatha Merkerson, who played Lt. Anita Van Buren on "Law & Order," and Emmy and Tony winner David Hyde Pierce, who originated the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway production of "Spamalot," will host the ceremony on May 16 at Webster Hall in New York.

The evening will also include a musical performance by original "Rent" cast member Anthony Rapp, who will perform a song from that show and another from his one-man musical "Without You." The ceremony will get another dose of star power from its presenters, including Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons, John Larroquette, Lee Pace, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mamie Gummer, Nina Arianda, and Robert Sean Leonard.

Michael Feingold, chief theater critic of The Village Voice, which presents the awards, chairs the judges committee. He will be joined by Village Voice critic Alexis Soloski, New Yorker critic Hilton Als, playwright David Henry Hwang, director Evan Yionoulis, and Back Stage contributor and critic Andy Propst. The categories for the Obie Awards change annually and, unlike most theater awards, the nominees are not publicly announced. The judges often present multiple awards in a category or invent a new category to recognize artistic merit.

"Many of the most celebrated names in theater, film, and television say their Obie Award was the first major recognition of their professional career," according to a press release. Past winners include Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Felicity Huffman, Viola Davis, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Tony Kushner, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Edward Norton, and Sigourney Weaver.

The awards ceremony will also feature the announcement of the annual Obie theater grants.

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