Winning awards isn’t important, some say. It’s the work that counts. That may be so, but nonetheless most everyone loves a good horse race and local theater professionals and their fans are no exception.
On Monday night at the National Theatre, theatreWashington announced nominations for the 29th annual Helen Hayes Awards. D.C.’s equivalent to Broadway’s Tony awards, the prestigious prizes are given to reward excellence in professional theater in the greater Washington area. And similar to years past, quite a few gay theater folks are among those nominated.
Gathered in the theater’s cozy Helen Hayes gallery, guests listened attentively as theatreWashington CEO and president Linda Levy read off a long list of nominees (more than 150 in 26 categories) selected by 41 judges from 201 eligible productions that ran throughout 2012. Garnering the most nominations for outstanding resident musical was Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s production of “The Color Purple” followed closely by Signature’s Theatre “Dreamgirls.” For outstanding resident play Woolly Mammoth’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” (an exploration of wrestling and politics) and Folger Theatre’s wild west-set “The Taming of the Shrew” received the most nods.
Rather surprisingly, the movement-based Synetic Theatre that typically picks up heaps of nominations (and wins), received zero this time around.
Included among the many nominees were gay directors Michael Kahn (Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “The Government Inspector”), John Vreeke (Woolly Mammoth’s “Chad Deity”), Serge Seiden (MetroStage’s “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”), and Matthew Gardiner (Signature’s “Dreamgirls”). Talented gay musical director Jon Kalbfleisch was also nominated for his vital contributions to Signature’s “Dreamgirls.”
Gay actor Bobby Smith was nominated for both a lead (the title role in the musical revue “Jacques Brel,” and supporting performance (the sadistic dentist in Olney Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors”). Nicholas Rodriguez, also gay, was nominated for his supporting work Freddy Eynsford-Hill in Arena Stage’s “My Fair Lady.” Holly Twyford and Sarah Marshall are both gay and both nominated for supporting performances in Folger’s “Shrew.” Twyford was also nominated for her lead turn as the doomed Harper in Studio Theater’s “Dirt.”
The winner of the non-competitive John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company is Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Review, a fun company that melds the classics, vaudeville and rock. The late Aniello was an avid Washington theatergoer as well as the longtime partner of theatreWashington’s chairman of the board Victor Shargai.
All winners will be announced at theatreWashington’s annual Helen Hayes Awards ceremony on April 8 at the Warner Theatre followed by a blowout after party just across the street at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.
For a complete list of nominations go to theatreWashington.org.