Jacques Brel was alive and living on the stage of the 29th Helen Hayes Awards last night as the MetroStage spectacular swept three of the big musical theater awards, but it was also a dream night for Signature, which garnered four awards, including Outstanding Resident Musical for its production of Dreamgirls.
Helen Hayes laureates Natascia Diaz and Bobby Smith were chosen Outstanding Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Resident Musical for their work in MetroStage’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris, and Serge Seiden also won lauds for Outstanding Director of a Resident Musical for the same show.
But Dreamgirls, in addition to its Outstanding Musical prize, won Outstanding Supporting Actor for Cedric Neal, and Outstanding Costume Design for a Resident Production for Frank Labovitz. And tyro playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo won a fourth award for Signature – the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical – for the company’s production of his dynamic play, Really Really.
Folger Theatre copped the Outstanding Resident Play Award for its way-out-west production of The Taming of the Shrew, but Studio’s production of the stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man also racked up the accolades, winning the Outstanding Ensemble, Resident PlayAward, as well as the Outstanding Director for a Resident Play for Christopher McElroen, and Outstanding Lighting Design for a Resident Production for Mary Louise Geiger.
Jonathan Tuzman won the Helen Hayes Award for outstanding Musical Direction in a Resident Production for his work in Woolly Mammoth’s Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, which was, technically, not a musical – but which featured, as its third Act, a bizarre musical in which Bart Simpson takes on Mr. Burns in what playwright Anne Washburn imagined would be our origin myth, years into the future. Woolly’s wrestling drama, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, won an Outstanding Choreography in a Resident Production award for Joe Isenberg, and Elaborate Entrance’s Misha Kachman shared an award for Outstanding Set Design in a Resident Production with Todd Rosenthal, who recreated Mark Rothko’s painting studio in Arena’s Red.
Shakespeare Theatre swept the top two awards for acting in a play, with Steven Epp taking the Robert Prosky Award as Outstanding Actor in a Resident Play for his work in Servant of Two Masters and Francesca Faridany winning top awards as Outstanding Actress in a Resident Play for her role in the epic Strange Interlude.
Matthew McGhee, who played a bumbling, agitated clerk in Constellation’s farcical Taking Steps, was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Resident Play and E. Faye Butler, an aging chanteuse in Arena’s Pullman Porter Blues, was the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Play. Two theater artists from Toby’s Dinner Theater – Priscilla Cuellar from Legally Blonde the Musical and Theresa Cunningham from The Color Purple – shared the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Musical.
Multiple Helen Hayes laureate Matthew M. Nielson once again received the award for Outstanding Sound Design, this time for his work on Forum’s The Illusion.
Imagination Stage’s adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe got the nod not only as Outstanding Production, Theater for Young Audiences but as Outstanding Ensemble in a Resident Musical.
Perhaps reflecting the recent trend of area theaters to welcome non-resident productions which wished to use their space, only one Non-Resident award – to Felicia Boswell, named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production for her work in Memphis – went to the Kennedy Center, the usual repository for such awards.
The award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a non-Resident Production went to David M. Lutkin, who starred in the production of Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, which played at Theater J. Christopher Saul, who appeared in the production of Hamlet which played at Folger, was Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Non-Resident Production, and National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, which appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre, was Outstanding Non-Resident Production.
As previously announced, Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.