The Obies (as in "OB," short for Off-Broadway) have been presented since 1956 by the alternative Manhattan weekly The Village Voice, and honor strictly Off-Broadway work. There are no nominations, and the panel of judges may award as many prizes in one discipline as they please, even inventing new categories when it serves the purpose. The organization's motto is expressed as "Creativity is not a contest." Expected to present honors at the annual event are Viola Davis, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Denis O'Hare, Amy Sedaris and Lili Taylor. Tonya Pinkins will perform a selection from Caroline, or Change.
Both Kurtz and Esparza are past Obie winners. Kurtz has won three times: for Uncommon Women...and Others in 1978; The House of Blue Leaves in 1986; and The Mineola Twins in 1999. If she takes home an award for her work Frozen, she will be that rare recipient to have won in four successive decades.
Esparza won in 2002 for tick, tick....BOOM!.
This year's judges are playwright Tony Kushner; set designer Loy Arcenas; composer Diedre Murray; actor James Urbaniak; theatre scholar David Savran; director Evan Yionoulis; and the Voice's own Alisa Solomon and Charles McNulty.
Kushner, Arcenas, Murray, Yionoulis and Urbaniak have all won Obie Awards, which honor Off-Broadway theatre.