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Mario Cantone Set to Host 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards; Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, et al. to Present!

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The Off-Broadway League today announced this year's host and several of the presenters confirmed to participate in the 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway. The 27th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards will be handed out on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at NYU Skirball Center, beginning at 7:00pm EST. This year's ceremony will once again benefit the Actors Fund.

Mario Cantone is a celebrated New York stage actor and stand-up comedian who gained critical acclaim with his Tony®-nominated one-man show Laugh Whore. His additional Broadway credits include the Tony®-winning Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, Terrence McNally's Love! Valor! Compassion! and Shakespeare's The Tempest at The Public Theater. Off-Broadway credits include Rattlestick Theater's The Crumple Zone and The Taming of the Shrew for The Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival. He's perhaps most recognized for his role on HBO's Sex and the City, which he later reprised in the two big-screen films.

Presenters this year include Tony®-Award winner Laura Benanti, who will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Richard Frankel and also perform; Academy Award winner Willem Dafoe, who will induct Richard Foreman onto the famed Playwrights' Sidewalk; and many more of the most acclaimed actors working today – from stages both on Broadway and Off, to screens both big and small.

This year, members of the general public are again welcome to attend the 7:00pm ceremony. Public tickets are $75.00 and are available by phone at 212.352.3101, online at www.nyuskirball.org and in person at the Skirball Center's Shagan Box Office, 556 LaGuardia Place (Tuesday – Sunday from 12 – 6pm).

Representatives of the Off-Broadway League, Actors' Equity Association, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, in addition to theatre journalists and academics and other Off-Broadway professionals, serve on the Voting Committee. The Lucille Lortel Awards are produced by special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Foundation. Additional support provided by Theatre Development Fund.

The Off-Broadway League's Lortel Awards Producing & Administration Committee (Terry Byrne, Denise Cooper, Margaret Cotter, George Forbes, Melanie Herman, Catherine Russell, Steven Showalter, and Carl D. White) produces the Lortel Awards Ceremony.

For updates, additional news and media releases, including a full list of this year's nominees, visit www.LortelAwards.org. Follow the Lortel Awards on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/LortelAwards and become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LortelAwards.

Michael Heitzman (Director) is one of the songwriters of "Throw That Girl Around" from the Broadway musical Swing! His musical Bingo (The Winning Musical) had a successful Off-Broadway run and continues to have numerous productions nationally and internationally. It was honored with the 2007 Bay Area Critics Association Award for Best Musical. His critically acclaimed musical Vices: A Love Story was produced at the Caldwell Theatre where it was nominated for eight 2010 Carbonell Awards including Best New Work and Best Musical. Vices: A Love Story, the musical that Variety called "a minor miracle...a sensual celebration," has received multiple regional productions and is currently planning a New York City run. A 2009 Dramatist Guild Fellow, he and longtime writing partner Ilene Reid (www.heitzmanreid.com), are currently developing their original musical, Solana, with Indiana University Premiere Musicals as part of a two-year residency. In addition to having several TV and film scripts in development, he and Ms. Reid wrote for the NBC series "Just Deal" and their sitcom "Scott Free," developed with Barbra Streisand's Production Company Barwood Films and Kelsey Grammer's Production Company Grammnet, was purchased by Paramount Pictures. Michael Heitzman is a member of The Dramatists Guild, BMI and the Writer's Guild of America, East.

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