Monday night about 1,800 theater professionals and their fans gathered for the of the 34th annual Helen Hayes Awards. Held at the Anthem, the happening cavernous musical venue on D.C.’s Wharf.
The evening was long but fun as 45 awards were doled out to a uniformly grateful and gracious group of winners. Like previous years, nominees were grouped in Helen and Hayes cohorts depending on the number of Equity members in the production.
The night’s big musical winner was GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Spanish language production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 “In the Heights,” taking home nine awards including Outstanding Production in a Musical (Helen) and Outstanding Direction in a Musical (Helen) for Luis Salgado. Coincidentally, an Olney Theatre Center & Roundhouse Theatre co-production of Miranda’s “In the Heights” received Outstanding Production in a Musical (Hayes).
Outstanding Production in a Play (Hayes) went to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Twelfth Night,” and Theater Alliance took Outstanding Play (Helen) for “Still Life with Rocket,” the story of Etta Fisk, a former boxer who has slipped into senility.
Many of the winners were LGBT including a deserving Will Gartshore who was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical (Hayes) for his fabulous portrayal of philandering Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm in Signature’s perfect production of Stephan Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”
A charmingly thrilled Frank Britton received the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (Helen) for his terrific work in “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train” at 1st Stage.
Outstanding Direction in a Play (Helen) went to out director Rick Hammerly for Factory 449’s beautifully rendered “Leila & Co.” Best known for acting, Hammerly was pleased to receive the nod for direction.
Outstanding Ensemble in a Play (Hayes) was awarded to Ford’s Theatre for its production of playwright Edward Albee’s masterpiece “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” The cast featured out actor Holly Twyford as a boisterously boozy but vulnerable Martha.
Alessandra Baldacchino and Abby Corrigan tied for Outstanding Performer Visiting Production for “Fun Home” (the musical adaptation of lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir) at National Theatre. Both actors played the works central lesbian character at different points in her life.
The evening was co-hosted by the appealing duo of dapper Michael J. Bobbitt, Adventure Theatre MTC’s out artistic director, and the lovely Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan, a Helen Hayes Award-winning veteran D.C. actor who can soon be seen acting alongside out actor Jon Hudson Odom in “Botticelli in the Fire” at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
Talented Natascia Diaz honored the theater community’s recently deceased with a gorgeous rendition of “Lullaby” from “Light Years,” a new musical that premiered at Signature Theatre in February. Among those remembered was Joel Moskowitz, the out Publisher of D.C. Metro Theater Arts
The Helen Hayes Tribute went to local actor Nancy Robinette. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s out artistic director Michael Kahn spoke affectionately about the beloved Robinette’s enduring career and luminous talent.
A complete list of winners is here.