1st Stage Wins Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.
The Helen Hayes judges have underscored the diversity of DC theatre excellence by nominating productions from smaller DC area theatres, along with those of nationally known companies like Arena, Studio, Shakespeare and Synetic, for outstanding resident musical and play productions.
In a ceremony last night at the Helen Hayes Gallery of the National Theatre, the Helen Hayes Awards organization recognized GALA’s production of Momia en el Closet: The Return of Eva Perón, and Keegan’s production of RENT to be among the most outstanding Resident Musicals of 2009, (the Canadian Embassy’s Outstanding Ensemble, Musical added Metro Stage’s Cool Papa’s Party and Show Boat at Signature) along with Studio Theater’s Adding Machine: A Musical, Ragtime (Kennedy Center) and Crowns and The Fantasticks, both produced by Arena Stage.
Forum’s Millennium Approaches – the first part of its two-part production of Angels in America – was nominated as an outstanding resident play, along with Rep Stages’ Wittenberg, Arena’s The Quality of Life, Synetic Theater’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Folger’s Arcadia, and King Lear and The Dog in the Manger, both produced by Shakespeare Theatre.
Overall, The Kennedy Center led the pack with 20 nominations, Shakespeare Theatre had fourteen resident play or musical nominations, Synetic Theater received twelve, and Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre and Woolly Mammoth each garnered eleven.
Helen Hayes Awards Chair Victor Shargai also announced that 1st Stage, the Tyson’s Corner, VA company which has become noted for sharply-observed comedy and for giving roles to newly-minted professionals, has won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theater Company. Artistic Director Mark Krikstan later acknowledged “These first 18 months have been quite a ride, artistically and financially, and it’s wonderful to have this recognition from the theatre community.”’ 1st Stage follows Constellation Theatre (2008) and Taffety Punk (2007) in receiving Aniello Award recognition for the new dynamism which they are bringing to Washington area theatre.
Karl Miller won two nominations to the Robert Prosky Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Resident Play for his portrayal of a single character – the heroic Prior Walter in Forum’s two-part Angels in America. Also nominated were Stacy Keach in the title role of Shakespeare Theatre’s King Lear and Cody Nickell and Seth Reichgott for their performances in Folger’s Arcadia and Rep Stage’s Wittenberg, respectively.
It was also a big night for Holly Twyford, who nailed down three nominations as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Resident Play – for Folger’s Arcadia, Signature’s The Little Dog Laughed and Theater J’s Lost in Yonkers. The Theater J production also won a nomination for Tanya Hicken. Lisa Harrow (for Studio’s Rock ‘n’ Roll), Tonya Pickens (for Black Pearl Sings!, Ford’s Theatre) and Valerie Harper (a DCTS Audience Choice winner for her work in Arena’s Looped) were also nominated.
The musical nominations fell a little more widely. Sandy Bainum (The Music Man, Washington Savoyards), Jessica Lauren Ball (Oklahoma!, Toby’s Dinner Theatre), E. Faye Butler, (Crowns, Arena Stage), Laura Conforte (Momia en el closet: The Return of Eva Perón, GALA Hispanic Theatre), Tara Giordano (Heidi, Imagination Stage) and Christiane Noll (Ragtime, The Kennedy Center) won nominations as outstanding lead actresses in a resident musical, while David Benoit (Adding Machine: A Musical, The Studio Theatre), Quentin Earl Darrington (Ragtime, The Kennedy Center), Parker Drown (RENT, The Keegan Theatre), Will Gartshore (Show Boat, Signature Theatre), Jahi Kearse (Cool Papa’s Party, MetroStage) and Ashley Robinson (Giant, Signature Theatre) were nominated as outstanding lead actors.
Non-resident production nominations principally fell to A Streetcar Named Desire and August: Osage County, both of which played at the Kennedy Center, with some nominations for Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Hell Meets Henry Halfway, which played at Woolly Mammoth, and two nominations for Jim Brochu’s Zero Hour, a one-man show about Zero Mostel which played at Theater J.
New this year will be the Outstanding Production Award for Theatre for Young Audiences. Imagination Stage has three nominations (Lyle the Crocodile, Heidi, and Zomo the Rabbit), along with Barrio Grrrl! at the Kennedy Center and Synetic Family Theater’s Tale of the Fisherman.
This year, the Helen Hayes Awards were tabulated from ballots cast by sixty-three judges who viewed one hundred eighty-two productions at fifty-seven eligible theaters. This number is up significantly from 2008, where the judges looked at one hundred seventy-two productions at forty-five theaters.
The complete list of Helen Hayes Award nominees can be found on the Helen Hayes Awards Web site.
Now that the nominees have been announced, DCTS gets busy preparing for its annual ‘meet the nominees’ feature, leading up to the Helen Hayes Awards ceremony, Washington’s most glamorous night of theatre, to be held April 5, 2010 at the Warner Theatre.