♦ The Obie Awards, created to celebrate the work of Off Broadway theater artists, will be hosted this year by actress/comedian Lea DeLaria for the third consecutive time. “Lea DeLaria has come to personify the best of Off-Broadway; she’s smart, edgy, and charges way less than she’s worth,” said Heather Hitchens, the president of the American Theatre Wing. Judges for the this year’s Obie Awards will include columnist Michael Feingold, playwright Ayad Akhtar, theatre critics Melissa Rose Bernardo and Miriam Felton-Dansky, as well as Obie winners J. Smith Cameron, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Darius de Haas. The 62nd annual awards ceremony, sponsored by the American Theatre Wing and The Village Voice, will be held May 22 at downtown’s Webster Hall.
♦ Ensemble Studio Theatre‘s 36th Marathon of One-Act Plays, in association with the Radio Drama Network, is set to run in three different installments, May 14-June 30. Series A (May 14-June 5) includes Showtime Blues by France-Luce Benson, El Grande by Maggie Bofill, Blue Handed by David Zellnik, The Fork by Emily Chadick Weiss, and How My Grandparents Fell in Love by Cary Gitter. Series B (May 28-June 26) features Disney and Fujikawa by Lloyd Suh, Down Cleghorn by Julia Specht, Linus and Murray by Leah Nanako Winkler, On the Outs by Christina Gorman, and Falling Away by Christopher Shinn. And Series C (June 10-30) includes The Good Muslim by Zakiyyah Alexander, Female Beginner by Edith Freni, Good Results Are Difficult When Indifference Predominates by Amy Fox, Intensive Care by Donald Marcus, and Santa Doesn’t Come to the Holiday Inn by Elyzabeth Wilder.
♦ Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of the New York premiere of Martyna Majok‘s new play, Cost of Living, begins performances May 16 at New York City Center – Stage 1. The play tells the story of four very different people, each trying to get by in very different circumstances. “As their lives intersect, Majok’s play delves into the chasm between abundance and need and explores the space where bodies — abled and disabled — meet each other,” state production notes for the show. Directed by Obie Award winner Jo Bonney, the play’s cast features Jolly Abraham, Gregg Mozgala, Katy Sullivan and Victor Williams. Official opening for the show is June 7.
♦ Following its world premiere at the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego last year, The Boy Who Danced On Air will receive its New York premiere courtesy of the Abingdon Theatre Company. The production notes state: “The Boy Who Danced on Air focuses on a tradition in Afghanistan called Bacha Bazi: wealthy men take in poorer boys and train them to dance. The boys perform at parties and are often sexually abused. This is the story of what happens when two of those boys fall in love.” Reprising their roles from the San Diego production will be Troy Iwata and Jonathan Raviv. They will be joined Off-Broadway by newcomers Osh Ghanimah, Deven Kolluri and Nikhil Saboo. The musical features a score by Tim Rosser and Charlie Stone, with a book by Stone. Tony Speciale directs. Performances begin May 15 at the June Havoc Theatre with an official opening set for May 25.
♦ This year, New Dramatists will honor Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel and Tony Award-winning producer Daryl Roth with the organization’s Outstanding Career Achievement Awards at its 68th Annual Spring Luncheon, taking place May 16 at the New York Marriott Marquis. Featured performers at the event will include Killian Donnelly and J. Harrison Ghee from Kinky Boots. The program will also include a scene from Vogel’s Indecent, recently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, as well as special tributes by playwrights Nilo Cruz and Sarah Ruhl and Tony Award-winning actor Cherry Jones. “Paula and Daryl both lead by example,” says Emily Morse, artistic director of New Dramatist, “and it is a tremendous honor to recognize them and their contributions to our field in the company of our vital and supportive New Dramatists community.”
♦ And finally, Playwrights Horizons production of Bella: An American Tale, Kirsten Childs’ Western musical adventure, has completed casting. With a book, music, and lyrics by Childs, the new show is a co-production with Dallas Theater Center, where it debuted last fall. Returning to the New York production from the Dallas staging are Ashley D. Kelley in the title role, Yurel Echezarreta, Drama Desk Award winner Kenita R. Miller, Paolo Montalban, and Gabrielle Reyes, along with new cast members Marinda Anderson, Brandon Gill, Olli Haaskivi, Kevin Massey, Jo’Nathan Michael, Britton Smith and NaTasha Yvette Williams. Directed by two-time Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara, with choreography by Camille A. Brown, performances will begin May 19 ahead of a June 12 opening night, with a limited engagement scheduled through July 2 in the Mainstage Theater.
Written by Richard Hart