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'Fun Home,' Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Youngest-Ever Winner Among 2014 Obie Award Honorees

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on May 21, 2014 08:25 PM EDT

The Village Voice has announced the winners of the 2014 Obie Awards honoring Off-Broadway's best.

While the Tony Awards get a national TV broadcast (June 8) and the lion's share of national attention during theater's awards season, it's the smaller theaters that generally nurture and present the true creativity that keeps the art alive and kicking in New York. (An "Off-Broadway" theater has between 100 and 499 seats.)

Off-Broadway productions with mainstream appeal have often moved to Broadway--plays like Clybourne Park, Other Desert Cities and The Lyons, and musicals like Once and Avenue Q. An Obie Award can give an Off-Broadway production the boost it needs to move to bigger stages and greener pastures.

One of this year's most acclaimed Obie winners is the musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's bestselling memoir. The Pulitzer Prize finalist had already won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Off-Broadway Musical when the Obies were announced this week, with 10-year-old Sydney Lucas becoming the youngest performer ever to win an Obie for her performance as Small Alison. (Sibling rivalry alert: Her older brother Jake starred in A Christmas Story on Broadway last winter).

Another big winner was Will Eno's The Open House, which closed at the end of March after also winning the Lucille Lortel award for Best Play. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was a double winner, with his family drama Appropriate and his slave-era comedy An Octoroon both netting Obies.

Below is the complete list of 2014 Obie winners...

PERFORMANCE:
LARRY PINE, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney (SoHo Rep)
MIA KATIGBAK, Awake and Sing (NAATCO) SYDNEY LUCAS, Fun Home (Public Theater)
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)
JOHANNA DAY, Appropriate (Signature)
MARYLOUISE BURKE, sustained excellence of performance
CHRIS MYERS, An Octoroon (SoHo Rep)

PLAYWRITING:
WILL ENO, The Open House (Signature)

MUSICAL THEATER:
LISA KRON (author), JEANINE TESORI (composer), and SAM GOLD (director), Fun Home
(Public Theater)

DIRECTION:
JAMES MACDONALD, Love and Information (NYTW)
OLIVER BUTLER, The Open House (Signature)
LIESL TOMMY, Appropriate (Signature)

DESIGN/MUSIC:
BEN RUBIN (projections), Arguendo (Elevator Repair Service @ Public Theater)
EMMANUEL BROWN (fight direction) and SONYA TAYEH (choreography), Kung Fu (Signature)
JUSTIN TOWNSEND, sustained excellence of lighting design
ERIC SOUTHERN (lighting design), The Correspondent (Rattlestick)

SPECIAL CITATIONS:
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

OBIE GRANTS:
600 HIGHWAYMEN (www.600highwaymen.org)
48 HOURS IN HARLEM (www.harlem9.org)

THE ROSS WETZSTEON AWARD:
ABRONS ARTS CENTER (www.abronsartscenter.org)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
ESTELLE PARSONS

BEST PLAY AWARD:
BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS, Appropriate (Signature) and An Octoroon (SoHo Rep)

Judges: Michael Feingold, Chairman, Kirsten Childs, Nicky Paraiso, Tonya Pinkins, Michael Sommers, Rick Sordelet.

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TagsObie Awards, fun home, Off-Broadway, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

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