April 26, 2011 | by Patrick Folliard
Gays collect several Hayes medallions

Helen Hayes Awards (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Celebrating the best of local theater and beyond, Monday night’s 27th annual Helen Hayes Awards at the Warner Theatre proved a good time for both theater professionals and those who love them.

“It’s mah-velous,” crooned Tommy Tune as he accepted the Helen Hayes Tribute for an exceptionally successful career in theater. Tall, lithe and spookily boyish at 72, the legendary gay Broadway choreographer, dancer and director performed more than spoke his appreciation. The ultimate showman, Tune, who is gay, sang a bit and regaled the audience with a cute anecdote as he promised to continue to live up to the high standards set by the awardees who came before him including actors like Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones.

Other very deserving LGBT award recipients included veteran gay actor Ed Dixon who played the ever loyal Max in Signature Theatre’s recent production of “Sunset Boulevard.” Handsome gay actor Nicholas Rodriguez who played cowboy Curly in Arena Stage’s production of “Oklahoma” tied with Geoff Packard in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Candide” for outstanding lead actor in a resident musical. Rather coincidentally, the talented pair’s respective shows also tied for outstanding resident musical.

On behalf of Factory 449: a theatre collective, producing director Rick Hammerly accepted the John Aniello Award (named in memory of D.C. art scene patron and longtime partner of Helen Hayes Chairman Victor Shargai) for outstanding emerging theater company. After puckishly expressing his thanks to the D.C. community, Hammerly, who is gay, gave the floor to award co-recipient No Rules Theatre Company. Speaking for the newly formed troupe, Joshua Morgan (also gay) conveyed similar expressions of thanks.

Adventure Theatre’s “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” won outstanding production for theater for young audiences. “Before thanking [his] mom, Jesus, and cousin Pookie,” Michael Bobbitt — the company’s gay artistic director and the show’s director — shared his delight about just how well the production was received beyond the kid’s circuit. He closed with how Holly Twyford, who is gay, tap danced as the show’s title swine, and recommended that other directors who might hire the accomplished actor known for her laudable work in grown up plays, make sure she tap dance in their productions, even if she’s playing Lady Macbeth.

For a complete list of Helen Hayes Awards winners and nominees visit helenhayes.org.

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