Chicago connections in Big Apple Obie Awards

May 17, 2011

There were several Chicago connections in New York Monday night when the 56th annual Obie Awards were handed out, honoring work in Off-Broadway theater.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristofer Diaz received the Obie for Best New American Play (and Diaz picked up $1,000). This is the play developed jointly by Victory Gardens Theater and Teatro Vista and seen Off-Broadway in a transfer of the Chicago production.

It's ironic that the play was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama but did not win, and also was among the finalists for the rich ($25,000) Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, and did not win. What's wrong with the Pulitzer folks and the critics?

Several members of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble also picked up Obies for their work Off-Broadway, although not in Steppenwolf endeavors.

Austin Pendleton was honored for directing Chekhov's Three Sisters at Classic Stage Company, and founding ensemble member Laurie Metcalf took home an Obie Award for her work in The Other Place at the Manhattan Class Company.

Also, the political refugee Belarus Free Theatre, which was in residence in Chicago during the winter and is due to return this summer, received the Ross Wetzsteon Award and a $1,000 check.

The late Wetzsteon was distinguished critic long affiliated with The Village Voice weekly newspaper, the sponsor of the Obie Awards.

Finally, the chair of the six-person Obie judging committee was (once again) Village Voice chief theatre critic Michael Feingold, who was born-and-raised in Chicago and suburbs, and is a graduate of Highland Park High School.

Presenters for the Obies included Alec Baldwin, Liev Schreiber, John Larroquette, David Hyde Pierce and Anthony Rapp (from Glenview, another local connection) among others.