Cole Escola

The American Theatre Wing (Heather Hitchens, President & CEO) and The Village Voice (Peter Barbey, CEO) are pleased to announce that the 65th Annual Obie Awards, New York’s preeminent celebration of Off- and Off-Off Broadway theater, will premiere on on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT.  The prerecorded ceremony will be hosted by comedian, actor and writer Cole Escola (Hulu’s Difficult People, FXX’s Man Seeking Woman, Amazon Prime’s Mozart in the Jungle), who will also perform with surprise special guests.

“I am honored the American Theatre Wing made the mistake of asking me to host the Obies,” said Escola. “I am so excited to celebrate the great work Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, and to see my name on the Obies Wikipedia page on a list of hosts that includes Elaine May and Shelley Winters.”

During the ceremony, which was originally scheduled to be held on Monday, May 18 at Terminal 5, awards will be handed out for shows that opened between May 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020, in addition to shining a light on the productions that were in rehearsal and performance at the time the theaters closed.

“New York’s Off- and Off- Off- Broadway artists inspire, challenge, spark change and ignite passion. They are the foundation of innovation and a vital part of the fabric of American theatre,” said Hitchens.” This year, the COVID-19 crisis has challenged our community in ways we could have never imagined, but the creativity and collaboration inherent within these artists will enable theatre to ascend once again. The American Theatre Wing honors theatre that impacts the American experience. As the proud co-presenter of the Obie Awards we are privileged to celebrate this incredible work.”

Before the show, Patti LuPone accompanied by Adam Michael Tilford and Kenney M. Green from Marie’s Crisis will join the American Theatre Wing in raising a glass to the 2019-20 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway season with a sing-a-long. Patti will join from her now-famous basement to chat with guests and give a special live performance. The pre-show fundraiser, sponsored by Art Lab, will support the Wing’s efforts to support and sustain the theatre community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more and reserve your spot by visiting

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of its Obie Award wins, members of the York Theatre revival of Merrily We Roll Along will be joined by members of the original Broadway and 2019 Fiasco Theater revival casts for a special performance of “Our Time.” Songwriter and performer Shaina Taub (The Devil Wears Prada, Suffragist) will perform during the In Memoriam.


The American Theatre Wing and The Village Voice have also announced that Michael Feingold, longtime Village Voice theatre critic and former Obie Chairman, will receive a special citation for his work as a leading voice in theater criticism, his advocacy on behalf of Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, and his 43 years of dedication to the Obie Awards, including twelve as the Chairman.

In addition, the Obies will establish a special citation to be given annually in Mr. Feingold’s name. This award will recognize achievement in criticism, dramaturgy, translation, scholarship, mentorship or education, or for a theatrical contribution which has not been historically acknowledged by major awards.

Two Lifetime Achievement awards will be handed out, to Vinie Burrows, for her radical embrace of art and life, and for the strength and inspiration she has given to the world in a career spanning seven decades; and to Tim Sanford, for his extraordinary contribution to the theater, including 36 years at Playwrights Horizons, first as a literary intern, then as Literary Manager, then as Artistic Director for the past 24 years.

The 2020 Obie Awards are co-chaired by Obie-winning scenic designer Rachel Hauck and choreographer Sam Pinkleton, with Feingold serving as an advisor in the role of Chairman Emeritus. The judges’ panel for the 65th Annual Obie Awards also includes Lighting & Sound America editor-in-chief, David Barbour, Obie-winning lighting designer Mark Barton,  choreographer Camille A. Brown, Obie-winning actor/playwright David Greenspan, actor Jennifer Ikeda, Producing Artistic Leader of the Obie-winning The Movement Theatre Company David Mendizábal, features editor Diep Tran and playwright Anne Washburn.

ViacomCBS is the Sustaining Sponsor, Athletics is the Design Partner, and the Howard Gilman Foundation is the Supporting Sponsor of the 2020 Obie Awards. For more information, visit