By David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter) – NEW YORK – Signature Theatre has been chosen to receive the Tony Awards’ 2014 Regional Theatre Award, marking the first time that the honor will be presented to a New York-based company.
Signature Theatre’s 2012 production of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson”
While the award is traditionally reserved for organizations outside the New York metropolitan area, the rules were changed last year to include off-Broadway, given that the majority of leading professional theater companies nationwide have been recognized since the honor was introduced as a regular part of the Tonys in 1977.
Founded in 1991 by artistic director James Houghton, Signature builds its seasons predominantly around the work of a single playwright. Those have included Edward Albee, Horton Foote, August Wilson, Athol Fugard, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Charles Mee, Sam Shepard and Paula Vogel. The current season is devoted to David Henry Hwang, including the world premiere of his Bruce Lee bio-play, Kung Fu.
“Signature Theatre is an integral part of the theater landscape,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theater Wing, the two organizations that present the Tony Awards. “By dedicating each season to a single playwright, Signature Theatre offers audiences an unmatched explorative experience with the writer’s message across multiple bodies of work.”
The company also runs a Playwright-in-Residence program, as well as Residency Five, allowing Signature to support new work from multiple playwrights in a single season.
At the start of 2012, the company moved into the Pershing Square Signature Center, a major live-entertainment complex containing three stages plus rehearsal spaces that can also be used as small studio theater rentals.
Through its own cultural foundation and corporate subsidies, Signature since 2005 has been running an affordable ticket initiative that allows the company to charge just $25 for all seats to productions during their initial scheduled run. (Extensions revert to standard off-Broadway prices.)
Nominations in the competitive categories of the Tony Awards — in which only Broadway productions are eligible — will be announced tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. ET by Lucy Liu and Jonathan Groff and streamed live on TonyAwards.com. The awards ceremony will air live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 8, hosted by Hugh Jackman.
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