January 28, 2014 at 10:28 am EST | by Patrick Folliard
Woolly’s ‘Bird’ leads in Hayes noms

On Monday night at the National Theatre, theatreWashington announced nominations for the 30th 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 Washington area.

The Helen Hayes medallion. (Image courtesy theatreWashington)

The Helen Hayes medallion. (Image courtesy theatreWashington)

Gathered on the stage at the National, a cross section of the D.C. theater scene listened carefully as theatreWashington CEO and President Linda Levy read off a lengthy list of those nominated (more than 150 in 26 categories, selected by a pool of judges from 186 eligible productions that opened in 2013).

Raking in the most nominations was Woolly Mammoth’s “Stupid Fucking Bird,” a take on Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” written and directed by Aaron Posner. Surprisingly Studio Theatre’s excellent and equally audaciously named production “The Motherfucker with the Hat,” a dark comedy about addiction and fidelity by Stephen Adly Guirgis, was entirely shut out.

Round House’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” and Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” both garnered seven nominations. Six nominations went to “Hello, Dolly!” at Ford’s Theatre. “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center also earned six nominations, the most for any nonresidential production.  Signature Theatre’s musical “Gypsy” scored five nods including a nomination for director Joe Calarco, who is gay.

Out actor Brandon Uranowitz, who was terrific as Arnold, a drag queen who longs for love and family in Studio’s “Torch Song Trilogy,” deservedly received an outstanding lead actor nomination. Holly Twyford who is gay was nominated for her memorable turn as the manager from hell in Studio Theatre 2ndStage’s “Contractions.” Maurice Hines (also gay) was nominated for his choreography work in “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life.” Outstanding director nominations went to Matthew Gardiner and Robert O’Hara for Ford’s “The Laramie Project” and Robert O’Hara’s “Mountaintop” at Arena respectively.

Disappointingly, out actor Stephen Spinella who played Estelle Parsons’ gay son in Arena Stage’s compelling “The Velocity of Autumn,” received no love. And neither did out director Michael Kahn for staging “Torch Song Trilogy” at Studio or “Pride in the Falls of Autry Mill” at Signature.

All winners will be announced at the annual Helen Hayes Awards ceremony on April 21 at the historic National Building Museum.  By giving the event more of a party atmosphere with longer open bar hours, reduced ticket prices and six big screens to see presentations taking place throughout the evening, theatreWashington is striving to bring the theater community and its supporters together in a more interactive way.

For a complete list of nominations and event details go to theatrewashington.org.

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