Act Surprised! Obie Awards Go Virtual, Giving Winners Heads-Up

The Obie Awards, the freewheeling ceremony honoring theater performed Off and Off Off Broadway, has come up with its pandemic plan.

The ceremony — filmed and edited in advance — will be hosted by the alt-cabaret comedian Cole Escola and streamed on YouTube at 8 p.m. Eastern on June 4.

That means the winners will be notified in advance so that their acceptance speeches can be recorded. They will be asked not to share the news with others.

The Obies, founded by The Village Voice and now overseen and produced by the American Theater Wing, are among the most highly regarded of a variety of New York theater awards, most of which have been doled out online this season.

“A lot of the things that were canceled or postponed will not come back, and it’s important to honor that work,” said Heather Hitchens, the president of the American Theater Wing. “We also want to send a message that live theater will come back — a message of hope to people who are stuck at home and trying to figure out what their lives are.”

The Obies have already announced three honorees: lifetime achievement awards will be given to Tim Sanford, the outgoing artistic director of Playwrights Horizons, and to the actress Vinie Burrows; and a citation will be given to Michael Feingold, the longtime Village Voice theater critic who has supported the Obies for 43 years.

The Obies were originally scheduled to take place in-person on May 18. The online event will be preceded by a ticketed virtual fund-raiser featuring Patti LuPone.

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