The award, created in 2004, "honors a female and male character actor, 50 years of age or older, for the best performance in a supporting role in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production." As such, it is a complement to the 61-year-old Clarence Derwent Awards, which annually honor "the most promising female and male performers on the New York metropolitan scene." The winners receive $1,000 each plus a crystal trophy.
Houdyshell was honored for her acclaimed performance as Ann Kron in Lisa Kron’s Well on Broadway. The portrayal has already won her an Obie Award and Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel Award and Tony Award nominations. Dale was recognized for his performance as Mr. Peachum in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Threepenny Opera. Many critics singled out Dale as the best thing in the show. He also won a Tony Award nomination for the performance.
The Judges' Panel for the award consists of Betty Corwin, Director of Special Projects, Theatre on Film & Tape Archive of the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts; Adam Feldman, Time Out NY; Arne Gundersen, President of the Actors’ Equity Foundation; Harry Haun, staff writer, Playbill Magazine; Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press; Patrick Quinn, President of Actors' Equity Association; David Rosenberg, Back Stage; Michael Sommers, The Star Ledger, and Douglas Watt, The Daily News.