John Leguizamo, celebrated actor of both stage and screen, will host the 63rd annual Obie awards on May 21, the American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice jointly announced yesterday. The ceremony, which for the past ten years has been held at Webster Hall (which closed in August for renovations), will take place at Terminal 5.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, and raised in Queens, Leguizamo studied acting briefly at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. In the mid to late Eighties, he received bit parts in both movies (including Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War) and television (Miami Vice). In 1991, his Off-Broadway piece Mambo Mouth, which he both wrote and performed in, won both an Obie and an Outer Critics Award.
Leguizamo “is the living embodiment of everything that is essential about Off-Broadway. He’s also one of the funniest men on the planet,” Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, announced in a statement.
“The Obie I won for my first solo play, Mambo Mouth, was unspeakably encouraging for a young artist just starting out, and still holds a ton of meaning to me,” Leguizamo added. “I am thrilled to take part in celebrating this year’s crop of Obie winners. It’s not just a great honor; it brings my career full circle.”
The Voice’s Jerry Tallmer created the Obies in 1955 to recognize the daring and unconventional work being made on New York’s Off- and Off-Off-Broadway stages. In 2015, the Voice began collaborating on the event with the American Theatre Wing. The panel that selects this year’s crop of Obie winners will once again be chaired by Voice theater critic Michael Feingold.
Stay tuned for more Voice Obies coverage in advance of this year’s ceremony. Leguizamo himself can currently be seen on Broadway, in his Latin History for Morons (originally produced at the Public Theater), through the month of February.