Playwright Harold Pinter, songwriters Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt and actor Jerry Orbach will all receive special honors at the 14th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards May 3 celebrating outstanding achievement Off Broadway.
Pinter will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his career writing plays that have had a healthy life Off-Broadway (the current Ashes to Ashes, for example, at the Gramercy Theatre).
Orbach, star of TV's "Law and Order," will be given the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence. One of Orbach's early career roles was El Gallo in the original staging of The Fantasticks.
Jones and Schmidt, meanwhile, who wrote the long-running (and still running) Fantasticks, will have their names etched on stars imbedded in the Playwrights Sidewalk in front of the Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street.
The 1999-99 season's production awards, administered by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, will be announced April 6 and celebrated May 3 at the Lortel. Bea Arthur and Ossie Davis will co-host the May 3 ceremony.
The 14-year-old Lortels are named for the still-thriving actress producer, an early figure in the post-World War II Off-Broadway movement. "Off Broadway," by rules of Actors' Equity, is a term used for theatres of less than 500 seats.
The awards are selected by a committee of New York City area theatre critics and writers. The 1998-99 group includes Clive Barnes, Sherry Eaker, Peter Filichia, John Heilpern, Charles Isherwood, Alvin Klein, Michael Kuchwara, Ken Mandelbaum, Emily Nunn, John Simon, Sam Whitehead, John Willis and Linda Winer. The Edith Oliver Award is named for the late New Yorker theatre writer.
Among high-profile Off-Broadway productions in 1998-99 are: Wit, The Misanthrope, The Mineola Twins, Impossible Marriage, Bright Lights, Big City, Far East, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Killer Joe.
-- By Kenneth Jones