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Eric McCormack, Lily Rabe, Hugh Dancy, et al. to Present at 2012 Obie Awards, 5/21

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The Village Voice, the nation's largest alternative weekly newspaper, announced that the 57th Annual Obie Awards will take place on Monday, May 21, 2012, at Webster Hall in the East Village (125 East 11th Street). This year's awards will be presented by: Eric McCormackGrace GummerHugh DancyJonathan PryceJuliet RylanceJustin BarthaLily RabeMichael McKeanTopher GraceTracee Chimo. Entertainment and co-hosts to be announced.

For the past 57 years, the Village Voice Obie Awards, founded by Jerry Tallmer in 1956, have honored the best of Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Structured with informal categories that change annually, the Village Voice Obie Awards recognize persons and productions of excellence. Unlike most theater awards, the Village Voice Obie Awards list no nominations publicly. In the conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges may give several Obies in each category, and may even invent new categories to reward exceptional artistic merit.

The Voice's arts and cultural editor, Brian Parks, chairs the Obie panel of judges this year. His fellow Voice judges are the paper's esteemed critic Alexis Soloski and Obies Chairman Emeritus Michael Feingold-chief Voice theater critic, past Obies chairman, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and theater dramaturge.

The four guest judges are: Annie Baker, Best New American Play Obie winner in 2010 for her plays Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens; Anne Kauffman, accomplished director, instructor, and 2007 Obie winner for her direction of The Thugs; José Rivera, two-time Obie Award winner for his plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; and HeLen Shaw, a theater critic for Time Out New York and a past Obie judge. Her writing has also appeared in The Village Voice.

Many of the most celebrated name in theater, film, and television say their Obie Award was the first major recognition of their professional career. Past winners include such well-known stars as Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Felicity Huffman, Viola Davis, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Tony Kushner, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Edward Norton, and Sigourney Weaver, to name a few.

Because the Obies always strive to recognize artists of exceptional ability early in their careers, the award often serves to encourage, support, and in some sense nurture youthful talent. The Obies help shine an important light on theater artists who are breaking new ground, or just breaking through in their careers. In addition, the Obies honor those who have given years of service to the theater, with awards for Sustained Excellence and Lifetime Achievement.

The 2012 Obies will also honor the Off-Broadway theater community by presenting its annual theater grants, announced live at the ceremony.

Tickets for the Village Voice's 57th Annual Obie Awards are $25 general admission and will go on sale April 18th via TicketFly.com at obies.villagevoice.com. For more information please visit obies.villagevoice.com

The Obies are being generously sponsored by theater lovers Stella Artois, Pisco Porton, Ovelia Psistaria Bar, and Academy for Dramatic Arts .

Founded by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer in October 1955, The Village Voice introduced free-form, high-spirited, and passionate journalism into the public discourse. As the nation's first and largest alternative newsweekly, the Voice maintains the same tradition of no-holds-barred reporting and criticism it first embraced when it began publishing over 50 years ago. The recipient of three Pulitzer prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, among others, the Voice has earned a reputation for its groundbreaking investigations of New York City politics, and as the premier expert on New York's cultural scene. Writing and reporting on local and national politics, with opinionated arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews, daily web dispatches, comprehensive entertainment listings, and unrivaled classifieds, the Voice is the authoritative source on all that is New York.

The Village Voice has also created such celebrated events as the Obies Awards, 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Eats, Choice Streets, Web Awards, Brooklyn Pour, as well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year, including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, Best of NYC, and its Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Preview guides. The Voice is New York's most influential must-read alternative newspaper, both in print and online at www.villagevoice.com where the site averages 2 million unique users each month. www.villagevoice.com/obies

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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