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Obies fete ‘Syringa Tree’

Seldes gets sustained achievement award

NEW YORK — Pamela Gien’s “The Syringa Tree,” about life in South Africa, won the best play award at the 46th annual Village Voice Obie Awards, which honor achievement in Off Broadway theater.

At a May 21 ceremony at Webster Hall, hosts Marian Seldes and Brian Murray, co-stars of Edward Albee’s “The Play About the Baby,” presided over the disbursement of awards in general categories including performance, design, writing and directing. Also, Seldes was honored with a sustained achievement award.

Honored for performances this season were Mary-Louise Parker (“Proof”), Janie Dee (“Comic Potential”), Bette Bourne (“Resident Alien”), Murray (“The Play About the Baby”), George Bartenieff (“I Will Bear Witness”), Brian D’Arcy James (“The Good Thief”), Pamela Isaacs (“Newyorkers”), John Ortiz (“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot”), Jackie Hoffman (“The Book of Liz”), Stephanie Berry (“The Shaneequa Chronicles”) and a quartet from the Laura Nyro show “Eli’s Comin’ “: Judy Kuhn, Mandy Gonzalez, Anika Noni Rose and Ronnell Bey.

Awards for direction went to Craig Lucas (“Saved or Destroyed”), Michael Greif (“Dogeaters”) and Bob McGrath (“Jennie Richee”). John Carrafa was honored for his musical staging of “Urinetown.”

Douglas Stein won an Obie for his set designs for “Texts for Nothing” and “Saved,” and Neil Patel was similarly honored for “War of the Worlds,” “Resident Alien,” “Race” and “I Will Bear Witness.”

An additional design award was given to the team behind “Jennie Richee,” consisting of Julia Wolfe, Laurie Olinder, Bill Morrison, Fred Tietz, Cynthia Hopkins, Howard S.Thies, Pilar Limosner, Tim Schellenbaum, Ruth Pongstaphone and Matthew Tierney.

Musical awards went to Bill Sims Jr., for his music for “Lackawanna Blues”; Kirsten Childs, for music and lyrics of “The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin”; Ed Kleban, for music and lyrics of “A Class Act”; and Deidre Murray, for vocal and instrumental arrangements on “Eli’s Comin’.”

The playwriting nod went to Jose Rivera for “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.”

Special citations were won by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann for book and lyrics of “Urinetown”; Rinde Eckert for “And God Created Great Whales”; Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman, the faux-cabaret duo known as Kiki and Herb, for their show “Jesus Wept”; and Ruben Santiago-Hudson, playwright and star of solo show “Lackawanna Blues.”

Grants were given to Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, Classical Theater of Harlem and the Mint Theater.

The Ross Wetzsteon award went to Theater for a New Audience.

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