Awards Worthy

The 24th Annual Helen Hayes Awards

While some 2,000 members of D.C.’s theater community filled their plates and glasses at the 24th Annual Helen Hayes Awards’ post-show Ovations Gala, Monday, April 28, a fellow critic and I indulged in some late Monday night-early Tuesday morning quarterbacking.

We talked about the great moments of that evening’s awards ceremony, held this year at The Warner Theatre. Like Taffety Punk Theatre Company noting that their statuette for The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre probably cost more than their entire operating budget. E. Faye Butler remembering her surprise — while picking up her Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Musical for Signature Theatre’s Saving Aimee — when she heard Kathie Lee Gifford wrote a musical. (She also called the audience out saying that they were thinking the same thing.) Erik Lieberman’s sprint to the stage to pick up his Hayes for Outstanding Supporting Actor for Resident Musical for Signature Theatre’s Merrily We Roll Along.

And finally, hearing the folks at Synetic Theatre speak as they celebrated winning six Helen Hayes Awards, including Paata Tsikurishivili’s for Outstanding Director for Macbeth; The Canadian Embassy Award for Outstanding Ensemble; Resident Play or Musical for Hamlet…the rest is silence; and Outstanding Resident Play for their interpretation of Macbeth.

But what was most striking, as we sat in our huddle watching the crowds, which included folks who got more creative than most in this city would dare with their creative black tie, was the number of shows we simply hadn’t gotten to see. And unlike the post-Oscar list you can take to the video store, most of these shows are now just memories. Well, memories and, for some, mantle-worthy hardware.

In 2007, seats in Washington-area theaters were filled with some 1,908,557 people watching 67 professional theaters create 8,050 performances of 454 different productions. A clever person would tell you how far the tickets for these shows would actually stretch from, say, the Washington Monument. (If you’re interested they would stretch from the Washington Monument to Jamesburg, N.J. — exit 8A, roughly.) The rest of us will just sit for a moment slightly gape-mouthed at the amazing wealth and variety available all over this region.

If you’re not taking advantage, now is the time to start. There’s too much that’s too good for you to be missing. And for those of us who already log a fair number of hours in those seats, buckle up. I have a feeling we haven’t seen anything yet.

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