While most of the country’s eyes were trained on the Iowa caucuses Monday night, members of the local theater scene looked toward the intimate Helen Hayes Gallery of Washington’s historic National Theatre where theatreWashington announced nominees for the Helen Hayes Awards.
Now in its 32nd year, the Awards recognize outstanding achievement in more than 90 professional local theaters. The result of a year-long process in which members attended 202 eligible productions including 59 world premieres, the nominations for a total of 47 award categories are made in “Helen” or “Hayes” groups, depending on the number of Equity members involved in a production.
Many LGBT theater professionals were among the nominees.
Signature Theatre’s “West Side Story” (Hayes) deservedly received numerous nominations including outstanding musical, outstanding director for out director Matthew Gardiner, outstanding ensemble and more.
Out musical director Jon Kalbfleisch was acknowledged for outstanding musical director in three Hayes productions — “West Side Story,” “Cabaret” and “Simply Sondheim,” all Signature productions. Out musical director George Fulginiti-Shakar was the nominated for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Man of La Mancha” (Hayes) and “Las Polacas — the Jewish Girls of Buenos Aires” (Helen) at GALA Hispanic Theatre.
Olney Theatre Center’s “Bad Dog,” (Hayes) a new dramedy by out writer Jennifer Hoppe-House received nominations for outstanding play. Out actor Holly Twyford was given a nod for her turn as the play’s lead, Molly Drexler, an out recovering addict who falls off the wagon with a thud. The production was also nominated for outstanding ensemble.
Gala Theatre’s stunning “Yerma” (Helen) by famed gay Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca received nominations including outstanding direction for out director José Luis Arellano García, outstanding play and outstanding ensemble, as well as nominations in individual acting categories.
Out actors Rick Hammerly received an outstanding actor in a musical nod for his performance as Fagin in Adventure Theatre MTC’s “Oliver!” (Helen), and Tom Story was nominated in the outstanding supporting actor in a musical for his turn as the creepy serial killer in Studio Theatre’s “Silence! The Musical” (Helen). Out actor Michael Russotto received an outstanding actor nomination for his compelling work in “The Whale” (Hayes) at Rep Stage.
The Theater Alliance’s “Occupied Territories” (Helen) garnered a nomination for outstanding ensemble which included out actors Desmond Bing and Freddie Bennett.
Married partners Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith received an outstanding direction of a musical nomination for Creative Cauldron’s “Turn of the Screw” (Helen).
Studio Theatre’s “Jumpers for Goalposts” (Hayes), gay playwright Tom Wells’ touching comedy about an underdog gay and lesbian soccer team received an outstanding ensemble nod.
The multi-talented Dane Figueroa Edidi, who identifies as a trans woman, received an outstanding choreography nomination for Theater Alliance’s “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea” (Helen).
Collin Ranney was nominated for outstanding costume design for the Kennedy Center’s work for young audiences “Flowers Stink” (Helen).
Angela Lansbury is up for outstanding performer in a visiting production for her fabulous turn as eccentric medium Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” at the National Theatre.
Monday’s announcement kicks off the long lead up to the Helen Hayes Awards celebration on May 23 at an as-yet-unnamed location.
For a complete list of the 2016 Helen Hayes Awards nominees go here.