May 14, 2019 at 12:20 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Arena is tops at Helen Hayes Awards with seven wins
Helen Hayes, gay news, Washington Blade
Corbin Bleu in Anything Goes at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. (Photo by Maria Baranova)

On Monday, Washington area theater professionals and their fans gathered at the Anthem for the 35th annual Helen Hayes Awards. There’s no way around it, doling out prizes for 47 categories takes time, a LOT of time. But overall, the evening was light and celebratory; a happy salute to last year’s offerings from the nation’s fastest-growing theater region.

Nominees were again grouped in Helen and Hayes cohorts depending on the number of Equity members in the production. (Hayes productions have more Equity members.)  But unlike previous years, there were no runaway winners among the nominated productions.  

Arena Stage garnered the most wins with seven, distributed over different productions including the sensational “Anything Goes,” “Indecent,” “Dave,” and “Two Trains Running.” 

Nonetheless, Outstanding Production in a Play (Hayes) went to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “Gloria,” a fascinating tale of office rage by ubiquitous playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.  Constellation Theatre Company took Outstanding Play (Helen) for “Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce.”

As for musicals, Outstanding Production in a Musical (Hayes) went to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Camelot.” Accepting the award, out director Alan Paul dedicated the honor to his mentor, STC’s revered outgoing artistic director Michael Kahn.  And 1st Stage took Outstanding Production in a Musical (Helen) for “Fly by Night,”

Many of the award recipients were LGBT including a deserving Jimmy Mavrikes who took Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical (Helen) for his turn as an insecure, small-town teenager who finds summer love with the popular boy from school in Signature’s “Girlfriend.” 

Presenters were also drawn from the LGBT pool, including actors Jade Jones and Maulik Pancholy, actor/director Holly Twyford, actor/choreographer Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, Founding theatreWashington Board Chair Victor Shargai and theatreWashington’s thoughtful president and CEO Amy Austin.

Some smart person shrewdly cast out actor/director Rick Hammerly and actor Felicia Curry as the evening’s co-hosts. Both past Helen Hayes Award winners, the pair brought energy, humor and a sense of respect for the community and love for theater to the event. When they were offstage, things dimmed.

Two extremely worthy productions were singled out for best ensembles (Hayes): Signature Theatre’s musical “The Scottsboro Boys,” staged by out director Joe Calarco, and Studio Theatre’s “The Wolves,” a compelling play about teenage girls by Sarah DeLappe. 

The show’s in-memoriam sequence featured video montage of theater folks who died over the last year, stirringly accompanied by vocalist Nova T. Payton. Among those remembered was Darius Smith who not incidentally won this year’s award for Outstanding Musical Direction (Hayes) for Ford’s Theatre’s “The Wiz.”   

Unfortunately, the sheer number of categories and speeches prevents more musical performances. It’s too bad. More songs would broaden the event’s appeal. 

Notably, Maria Rizzo won two awards: She took outstanding supporting actress in a musical (Hayes) for her delightful turn as an appealing gun moll in Arena’s production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” and Outstanding lead actress in a musical (Helen) for playing Roxie Hart in the Keegan Theatre’s revival of “Chicago.”

The charming Natsu Onoda Power also took home two awards. She won both script adaptation and set design for “The Lathe of Heaven,” a Helen-categorized production from Spooky Action Theatre and Georgetown University.

Natascia Diaz was honored her gorgeous work as Fosca in Signature’s “Passion,” (a Hayes musical) the 19th century set tale of an ill-fated romance between a handsome Italian officer and an ugly, undervalued woman.

The prestigious Helen Hayes Tribute went to director Jennifer L. Nelson. She expressed the value of taking a chance on someone you don’t know as well as diversity, themes that recurred throughout many acceptance speeches. Another repeated message: Parents, take your kids to see theater. Spark their interest and they may one day be collecting prizes before a festive audience in a massive venue. 

The full list of 2019 Helen Hayes Awards (multiple names under one category indicate ties):

James MacArthur Award for outstanding supporting actor in a play — Helen

Ryan Tumulty, “Flood City,” Theater Alliance

James MacArthur Award for outstanding supporting actor in a play — Hayes

Kim Sullivan, “Familiar,” Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Outstanding supporting actress in a musical — Helen

Caroline Wolfson, “Fly by Night,” 1st Stage

Outstanding supporting actress in a musical — Hayes

Maria Rizzo, “Anything Goes,” Arena Stage

Outstanding supporting actor in a musical — Helen

DeCarlo Raspberry, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” Toby’s Dinner Theatre

Outstanding supporting actor in a musical — Hayes

Hasani Allen, “The Wiz,” Ford’s Theatre

Outstanding sound design — Helen

Roc Lee, “The Lathe of Heaven,” Spooky Action Theater and Georgetown University

Outstanding sound design — Hayes

Ken Travis, “Camelot,” Shakespeare Theatre Company

Outstanding costume design — Helen

Erik Teague, “The Trial,” Synetic Theater

Outstanding costume design — Hayes

Kara Harmon, “The Wiz,” Ford’s Theatre

Alejo Vietti, “Anything Goes,” Arena Stage

Outstanding musical direction — Helen

Britt Bonney, “Girlfriend,” Signature Theatre

Jake Null, “Chicago,” Keegan Theatre

Outstanding musical direction — Hayes

Darius Smith, “The Wiz,” Ford’s Theatre

Outstanding choreography in a musical — Helen

Rachel Leigh Dolan, “Chicago,” Keegan Theatre

Outstanding choreography in a musical — Hayes

Parker Esse, “Anything Goes,” Arena Stage

Outstanding choreography in a play — Helen

Irina Tsikurishvili, “Sleepy Hollow,” Synetic Theater

Outstanding choreography in a play — Hayes

Stephanie Paul, “The Wolves,” Studio Theatre

Outstanding supporting actress in a play — Helen

Mary Myers, “45 Plays for 45 Presidents,” NextStop Theatre Company

Tuyet Thi Pham, “The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs,” Spooky Action Theater

Outstanding supporting actress in a play — Hayes

Cheryl Lynn Bruce, “Familiar,” Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Outstanding ensemble in a musical — Helen

“Fly by Night,” 1st Stage

Outstanding ensemble in a musical — Hayes

“The Scottsboro Boys,” Signature Theatre

Outstanding production — theater for young audiences

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Imagination Stage

Outstanding original play or musical adaptation

Natsu Onoda Power, “The Lathe of Heaven,” Spooky Action Theater and Georgetown University

Charles MacArthur Award for outstanding original new play or musical

Heather Raffo, “Noura,” Shakespeare Theatre Company

Outstanding visiting production

The Second City’s “She the People,” Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Outstanding performer — visiting production

Ephraim Sykes, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” Kennedy Center

Outstanding ensemble in a play — Helen

“The Frederick Douglass Project,” Solas Nua

Outstanding ensemble in a play — Hayes

“The Wolves,” Studio Theatre

Outstanding direction in a play — Helen

Nick Martin, “Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce,” Constellation Theatre Company

Outstanding direction in a play — Hayes

Kip Fagan, “Gloria,” Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Eric Rosen, “Indecent,” Arena Stage

Outstanding direction in a musical — Helen

Kathryn Chase Bryer, “Fly by Night,” 1st Stage

Outstanding direction in a musical — Hayes

Tina Landau, “Dave,” Arena Stage

Outstanding lead actor in a musical — Helen

Jimmy Mavrikes, “Girlfriend,” Signature Theatre

Outstanding lead actor in a musical — Hayes

Corbin Bleu, “Anything Goes,” Arena Stage

Outstanding lead actress in a play — Helen

Regina Aquino, “The Events,” Theater Alliance

Outstanding lead actress in a play — Hayes

Erika Rose, “Queens Girl in Africa,” Mosaic Theater Company

Outstanding lighting design — Helen

Brian S. Allard, “Titus Andronicus,” Synetic Theater

Outstanding lighting design — Hayes

Robert Wierzel, “Camelot,” Shakespeare Theatre Company

Outstanding set design — Helen

Natsu Onoda Power (set designer), Danny Carr (projection designer), “The Lathe of Heaven,” Spooky Action Theater and Georgetown University

Outstanding set design — Hayes

Emily Lotz, “The Princess & The Pauper: A Bollywood Tale,” Imagination Stage

Robert Prosky Award for outstanding lead actor in a play — Helen

Josh Adams, “The Events,” Theater Alliance

Matthew R. Wilson, “Swimming With Whales,” 1st Stage

Robert Prosky Award for outstanding lead actor in a play — Hayes

Eugene Lee, “Two Trains Running,” Arena Stage

Outstanding lead actress in a musical — Helen

Debora Crabbe, “As You Like It,” Keegan Theatre

Maria Rizzo, “Chicago,” Keegan Theatre

Outstanding lead actress in a musical — Hayes

Natascia Diaz, “Passion,” Signature Theatre

Outstanding production in a musical — Helen

“Fly by Night,” 1st Stage

Outstanding production in a musical — Hayes

“Camelot,” Shakespeare Theatre Company

Outstanding production in a play — Helen

“Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce,” Constellation Theatre Company

Outstanding production in a play — Hayes

“Gloria,” Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Comments are closed
© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved.