The award, according to press notes, honors "a veteran female and male character actor for the best performance in a supporting role in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production."
Deirdre O'Connell was cited for her performance in Lisa Kron's In The Wake at the Public Theater, and Reed Birney was recognized for his performances in A Small Fire at Playwrights Horizons and Tigers Be Still, part of Roundabout's Underground series.
Equity member Richard Seff established this award in 2003. Previous recipients include Tom Aldredge, Larry Bryggman, Lynn Cohen, Jim Dale, Hallie Foote, Jane Houdyshell, Dana Ivey, Roger Robinson and Mary Louise Wilson.
The Judges' Panel included Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News; Adam Feldman, Time Out NY; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, Back Stage.
O'Connell made her Broadway debut in the 1986 revival of The Front Page and was nominated for the 1991 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in the Off-Broadway production Love and Anger. She is the recipient of two Drama-Logue Awards and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her theatre work in Los Angeles.
Birney's other New York appearances include Playwrights Horizons' Circle Mirror Transformation; Roundabout's The Dream of the Burning Boy; Blasted at Soho Rep, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination; Stuff Happens at The Public; and Homebody/Kabul at BAM. He has three Obies and a Drama Desk Award.