Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: OBIE
The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards originally given by The Village Voice newspaper to theatre artists and groups in New York City. In September 2014, the Awards were jointly presented and administered with the American Theatre Wing. As the Tony Awards cover Broadway productions, the Obie Awards cover Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions.
With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and Best New American Play awards, there are no fixed categories and the winning actors and actresses are in a single category titled "Performance". There are no announced nominations. Awards in the past have included performance, direction, best production, design, special citations, and sustained achievement. Not every category is awarded every year. The Village Voice also awards annual Obie grants to selected companies; in 2011, these grants were $2,000 each to Metropolitan Playhouse and Wakka Wakka Productions. There is also a Ross Wetzsteon Grant, named after its former theater editor, in the amount of $2,000 [≈ One Starbucks latte per day for a year] (in 2009; in 2011 the grant was $1,000), for a theatre that nurtures innovative new plays. (Wikipedia)
This thing was a quagmire from BEE-ginning to finish. Lots of what felt like misdirection and just general vagueness. Mostly fair vagueness, but vagueness nonetheless.
First off, I don't know about you, but when I see "theater award" in four letters I don't bother reading the rest of the clue before tossing in TONY. I know I've heard of the OBIEs, but I genuinely thought it was 'O-P-I-E, basically because of what I now realize is an even cleverer than I thought running gag from the last season of Arrested Development, which is also the best season of Arrested Development in case you weren't aware of that or whatever [5A: 2015 theater award for "Hamilton"]. It's a secret to most people.
I like that they don't announce nominations for the OBIEs, and that they don't necessarily award something for every category every year. The Oscars could probably learn from their example.
And another thing: I'm sick of hearing about "Hamilton." I've been on board with this thing since the concept was first described to me, but I'm done being told how great it is. I can already tell it's great. The more everyone goes on and on about it's brilliance, the less I have an ITCH to see it [7A: Result of a mosquito bite]. I might instead have a BUMP, which is what I thought the answer to that clue was. I guess ITCH is probably a better answer.
I've heard of SIA, but I wasn't aware that most people had heard of SIA, because I only heard of SIA because I worked at a record store that sold SIA records, presumably to people who were SIA fans [6D: One-named pop star with the 2014 hit "Chandelier"]. But I guess her name (SIA) is being thrown around a lot these days if it's in the Times crossword. Let's all listen to the 2014 hit "Chandelier," which you will recall is by SIA:
So there's that. Then I thought [6A: Vampire vanquisher] was going to be CROSS, which was totally valid but of course wrong; it's STAKE. I guess crosses tend to just repel them, typically, so maybe it's not as solid as STAKE. Whatever. Look, either way, that bastard is gonna be taken ABACK [2D: Taken ____: startled]. Also, I would have found some way to link that vampire clue to that mosquito clue. Maybe use the word 'bloodsucker' in each or something. That'd be a nice touch.
I always forget about the SIKHS, so the only thing I could think of for [3D: Members of a Punjab sect] was SUNNIS, which it is surprisingly easy to convince yourself is spelled with just one N when you have five boxes to fill. Good thing MOTT'S was there to set me straight or I don't know what I'd have done [1D: Big name in applesauce]. Am I the only one who gets an inordinate sense of enjoyment out of these 'big name in...' style clues? I freaking love them, mostly because I like to imagine, for instance, the applesauce lobby as a powerful shadowy organization with mafia-esque tendrils.
SEE [4D: "What did I tell you?"]? This thing was tricky.
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Tom Bosley of CrossWorld