Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly were there to be honored for the special achievement of their role-switching performances in True West. During the pre-presentation cocktail hour, Hoffman, noting that other award-giving organizations had the two actors competing against one another, told us, "Though we play each part differently, we are intertwined beyond what anyone would understand. I'm happy that people acknowledge the work and that's nice, but I would prefer that awards weren't the pressure they are. It's hard enough to put on a good show eight times a week. So I think the way the OCC addressed it was very mature. I think they realized that the show we're doing is, basically, very special."
Roy Dotrice (OCC's Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for A Moon for the Misbegotten) was in a hearty mood, having already won the Drama Desk award in that category and sitting on a Tony nomination. He joked, "I'm trying for the Triple Crown. It hasn't been done since Secretariat," he said, laughing. "It's wonderful. This kind of showbiz razzmatazz we don't have in London. We have this stiff upper lip thing. We accept awards rather gracefully and graciously, but not with any degree of excitement. But I love all this. The OCC was the first award, and to me that's the most important because these are the people who matter--the critics--they decide how long you're going to exist in this profession."
As is often the case during the theater award season, one organization makes up for the errors of another. Olympia Dukakis, who was not nominated for a Tony for her one person show Rose, was given the OCC Outstanding Performance in a Solo Show Award in a tie with Matt Setlock (Fully Committed). Commenting on the lack of a Tony nod, Dukakis admitted, "It's disappointing, that's for sure." She tried to be philosophical about it, saying, "It forces you to think about what it is you're winning and losing. And it forces you to define yourself, as opposed to letting other people define you." Then she shrugged and said, "It's a drag." Brightening, she pulled over her co-winning competition, Matt Setlock, and said, "After it was announced that we were sharing this award, he sent me a beautiful present saying it was an honor to be honored with me. I was just overwhelmed."
For his part, Setlock offered, "This is the first time I've had any recognition of any sort. Of course you want to win it all, you want to be nominated for it all. The Obies come and go, and there was no recognition there. There's disappointment, but to tie with one of your idols is pretty cool. It was a nice call home to dad in the Midwest to say I won--with Olympia Dukakis. I'm still buzzing."
For the better part of 20 years, gender-illusionist Charles Busch has often been a presenter at theater award events, but never a winner. He had never even been nominated before, he said. A bridesmaid, but never the bride, he's even worn the dress, but this year, after writing the acclaimed The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, and winning the OCC's John Gassner Playwriting Award, the glass slipper is on the other foot. "I'm not handing it out," he said happily. "I'm getting one. It's a nice change. It's a wonderful thing after all these years. I've been around, you know. I've been discovered more often than North America. If the family is a theater, I'm the red leaf in the family tree." As a long-time presenter, though, he had a tip for those who were about to introduce the winners, "Get one laugh and then cool it. Don't make it about you, it's about the award."