The 2013 Helen Hayes Awards nominations

Last night, the staff of theatreWashington gathered an excitable sample of area theatre artists, arts leaders, and members of the press into the National Theatre’s Helen Hayes Gallery to announce the nominees for the 2013 Helen Hayes Awards. The event marks the 29th season of DC’s annual theatre awards, and the remarkable growth in the city’s theatre scene during the past three decades was evident in last night’s mingling crowd, diverse in age and background.

Many in the theatre community will pick up the tail ends of last night’s conversations again on April 8, the night of the awards. That large-scale, semi-formal soiree — often referred to as “drama prom” — is months off, but talking over the nominations can keep us all busy in the meantime.

The DC region has 84 professional theatres. Of these, 25 were nominated last night by 50 Helen Hayes judges. This year, Shakespeare Theatre Company pulls out ahead with a total of 19 nominations in 13 categories, followed closely by Arena Stage with a total of 18 nominations in 14 categories. Folger Theatre’s nominations jumped to 14 this year, up from 8 last year, while Signature Theatre and The Studio Theatre each received 12 nominations. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company received 10 nominations, tied with Imagination Stage.

The finite number of nominations, naturally, shifts substantially in distribution from year to year, and this year is no exception. Perhaps most surprisingly, Synetic Theater — nominated 15 times last year for their clown-face and pantomime production of King Lear — is entirely absent from the nominations list this year.

Recognition among theatres catering primarily to young audiences got a bit of a shake-up as well: Adventure Theatre (now operating as Adventure Theatre MTC) received 2 nominations after tallying 13 last year, while Imagination Stage — boosted by strong critical support for Rapunzel, The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, and Seussical — jumped to 10 nominations this year from 5 last year.

It’s not a great year for breakaway streaks by the underdogs; of the 25 nominated theatres, seven of the most established swept a full two-thirds of the nods. Even so, the Helen Hayes judges recognized several shows produced on more modest budget, among them Hum at Theater Alliance, Big Love at The Hub Theatre, The Belle of Amherst at The Bay Theatre Company, The Illusion at Forum Theatre, and Side Man and Suite Surrender, both at 1st Stage.

Out of a total of 201 award-eligible shows, nominated productions totaled 59, the most recognized being The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. The show took 9 nominations. Meanwhile, Toby’s Dinner Theatre broke some new ground — last year the company received one nod — by earning 8 nominations this year for their acclaimed production of The Color Purple. Signature Theatre’s Dreamgirls and The Studio Theatre’s Invisible Man each earned 7 nominations; Pullman Porter Blues at Arena Stage and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at MetroStage each earned 6 nominations.

The nominees for Outstanding Resident Musical are:

1776 at Ford’s Theatre; The Color Purple at Toby’s Dinner Theatre; Dreamgirls at Signature Theatre; Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at MetroStage; and Spring Awakening at The Keegan Theatre.

The nominees for Outstanding Resident Play are:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Theatre Company; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; Invisible Man at The Studio Theatre; Our Class at Theater J, and The Taming of the Shrew at Folger Theatre.

This year’s John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company will be presented on April 8 to Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue, a rambunctious musical theatre troupe and regular crowd favorite at the Capital Fringe Festival. The company most recently produced The Brontes, an irreverent and well-reviewed musical satire this past summer.

“Thank you, with all of my heart, to each member of our community,” said theatreWashington’s chairman Victor Shargai in a brief opening speech. “I urge you all to keep producing, to take risks, and to go to a show.”

He was followed by Linda Levy Grossman, President and CEO of theatreWashington, who concurred. “The legacy that [actress] Helen Hayes left is not just a storied stage, film, television, recording, and publishing career that spanned eight decades,” Grossman said. “Helen Hayes’s standard of excellence inspired a dignified profession right here in her hometown of Washington DC, where thousands of actors, directors, designers, technicians, administrators, and company members work tirelessly, making sacrifices 365 days a year to contribute mightily to the vitality of our region, and to tell extraordinary stories that uniquely explore the human condition.”

For the first time this year, the nominations ceremony was captured via webcast — an effort hosted by two of the region’s most recognizable — and certainly most affable — radio personalities: Bob Madigan, host of WTOP’s Man About Town, and Rebecca Sheir, host of WAMU’s Metro Connection, who interviewed guests before and after the nominations were announced. The community of Web viewers peaked at 518. Donna Migliaccio was the night’s most frequent tweeter.

Comprehensive listing of the nominations, full video footage of last night’s event plus additional video content describing the specifics of the Helen Hayes judging process, visit

And don’t touch that dial — the story continues on Monday, April 8, 2013 as DC Theatre Scene covers the results of the 29th Helen Hayes Awards.


25 Nominated Theatres, listed alphabetically, showing 150 nominations
(# of nominations in parentheses)

1st Stage (2)

Adventure Theatre (1)

Adventure Theatre (as Adventure Theatre MTC) (1)

Arena Stage (18)

The Bay Theatre Company (1)

Constellation Theatre Company (1)

Faction of Fools Theatre Company (1)

Folger Theatre (14)

Ford’s Theatre (4)

Forum Theatre (1)

GALA Hispanic Theatre (1)

The Hub Theatre (1)

Imagination Stage (10)

The Keegan Theatre (7)

The Kennedy Center (8)

MetroStage (7)

The National Theatre (1)

Olney Theatre Center (2)

Round House Theatre (1)

Shakespeare Theatre Company (19)

Signature Theatre (12)

The Studio Theatre (12)

Theater Alliance (1)

Theater J (5)

Toby’s Dinner Theatre (9)

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (10)

59 Nominated Productions, listed alphabetically, showing 150 nominations
(# of nominations in parentheses)

1776, Ford’s Theatre (4)

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, The Studio Theatre (1)

August: Osage County, The Keegan Theatre (2)

The Belle of Amherst, The Bay Theatre Company (1)

Big Love, The Hub Theatre (1)

Black Watch, Shakespeare Theatre Company (5)

Brother Russia, Signature Theatre (2)

The Color Purple, Toby’s Dinner Theatre (8)

Come Fly Away, The Kennedy Center (1)

A Commedia Christmas Carol, Faction of Fools Theatre Company (1)

The Conference of the Birds, Folger Theatre (1)

Crown of Shadows: the wake of odysseus, Round House Theatre (1)

Dirt, The Studio Theatre (3)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The National Theatre (1)

Dreamgirls, Signature Theatre (7)

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (9)

The Government Inspector, Shakespeare Theatre Company (4)

Hamlet, Folger Theatre (4)

Hum, Theater Alliance (1)

The Illusion, Forum Theatre (1)

Invisible Man, The Studio Theatre (7)

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Kennedy Center (1)

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, MetroStage (6)

Josephine Tonight, MetroStage (1)

La Cage Aux Folles, The Kennedy Center (1)

Legally Blonde the Musical, Toby’s Dinner Theatre (1)

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Imagination Stage (5)

A Little House Christmas, Adventure Theatre MTC (1)

Little Shop of Horrors, Olney Theatre Center (2)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Arena Stage (1)

Memphis, The Kennedy Center (3)

The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare Theatre Company (1)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare Theatre Company (5)

Million Dollar Quartet, The Kennedy Center (1)

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (1)

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, The Kennedy Center (1)

The Music Man, Arena Stage (3)

My Fair Lady, Arena Stage (2)

One Night with Janis Joplin, Arena Stage (2)

Our Class, Theater J (1)

Puerto Rico… ¡fua!, GALA Hispanic Theatre (1)

Pullman Porter Blues, Arena Stage (6)

Rapunzel, Imagination Stage (4)

Really Really, Signature Theatre (1)

Red, Arena Stage (3)

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, Arena Stage (1)

The Religion Thing, Theater J (1)

The Servant of Two Masters, Shakespeare Theatre Company (3)

Seussical, Imagination Stage (1)

Side Man, 1st Stage (1)

The Snowy Day, Adventure Theatre (1)

Spring Awakening, The Keegan Theatre (5)

Strange Interlude, Shakespeare Theatre Company (1)

Sucker Punch, The Studio Theatre (1)

Suite Surrender, 1st Stage (1)

Taking Steps, Constellation Theatre Company (1)

The Taming of the Shrew, Folger Theatre (9)

Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie, Theater J (3)

Xanadu, Signature Theatre (2)

Congratulations to all the companies and each nominee.
This video, produced by theatreWashington,  with soundtrack from last year’s Helen Hayes Awards ceremony, says it all –

Go See a Show!

Hunter Styles About Hunter Styles

Hunter Styles is the Artistic Director of Artists Bloc, a locally-focused workshop and presentation series for early-development performing arts pieces. He has written plays produced by Rorschach Theatre, Forum Theatre, Wayward Theatre, Flying V, and Grain of Sand. He received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for co-directing the Andy Warhol musical POP! at The Studio 2ndStage and has directed and assistant directed with Theater J, Rorschach Theatre, Synetic Theater, Doorway Arts Ensemble, Georgetown and American universities, and more. He is currently a staff member at Signature Theatre in Arlington and a company member of Factory 449. He has been writing for DC Theatre Scene since 2008 and for American Theatre magazine since 2012.



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