A pair of dancing Hungarian sisters led to a trio of Obie Awards for sometime Austinites Katie Pearl and Lisa D'Amour and their friend and collaborator Kathy Randels.
Nita and Zita and Obie
A pair of dancing Hungarian sisters led to a trio of Obie Awards for sometime Austinites Katie Pearl and Lisa D'Amour and their friend and collaborator Kathy Randels this week. On Monday, May 19, at the 48th annual Obie ceremony, the three received Special Citations for Nita and Zita, their cabaret about Flora and Piroska Gellert, which they brought to Austin in February just prior to its New York run. Randels, D'Amour, and Pearl co-created the piece in New Orleans, where the Gellerts settled after years of touring as a successful dance act in vaudeville and where they became two of that city's legendary characters, "gypsy ladies" who made fanciful costumes and turned their home into a work of art. They premiered the show in New Orleans last June with D'Amour directing Pearl and Randels as Flora and Piroska, dancing, singing, and telling their life story in Eastern European accents as thick as borscht. The show played only one weekend at the HERE Arts Center in New York, but clearly that was enough for the Obie judges to see it and be charmed. The Obie Awards, presented annually by The Village Voice, specifically recognize theatrical work off-Broadway. The number of awards given each year is flexible; 29 special citations were handed out this year, honoring artists for five shows, plus two individuals and one institution for their contributions. Pearl and D'Amour were present when presenters Juliana Francis and John Ortiz announced their names. (Randels has gone to Europe to tour with the DAH Teatar dance troupe.) In an e-mail, D'Amour said that "this award is really a testament to the grassroots, passionate approach to theatremaking in Austin. ... It has taught me so, so much." Coverage of the awards may be found at www.villagevoice.com. (P.S. Nita and Zita was also nominated for a 2003 Austin Critics Table Award in the category of Touring Show, Theatre.)