Shakespeare Theatre Company was the big winner at last night’s Helen Hayes Awards, snagging 12 wins. Half of them were for Yael Farber’s feminist adaptation of the biblical story Salome, including one of the night’s top prizes, Outstanding Play in the Hayes category.
Shakespeare also earned three wins for its production of the classic musical Kiss Me, Kate, including two for supporting actors Clyde Alves and Robyn Hurder, lovers in real life as well as in the show. But the prize for Outstanding Musical went to Dear Evan Hansen, which debuted at Arena Stage last summer and is currently running Off Broadway.
Director Michael Greif was deemed Outstanding Director, with both awards in the union-heavy Hayes category of the two-tiered system that presenting organization theatreWashington launched last year. While a little confusing, the system was designed to create a more equitable playing field — as well as doubling the number of awards given out.
The runaway musical success in the Helen category, featuring nominees from more non-union productions, was, Constellation Theatre Company’s Avenue Q. Artistic director Allison Arkell Stockman earned Outstanding Director in the Helen category for her work helming the gay-friendly puppet musical, and the production scooped up another seven awards out of 14 total nominations, including Outstanding Ensemble and three of the four main acting awards.
The big winner in the Helen category for plays was Yerma, winning six including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director (Jose Luis Arellano Garcia) and Outstanding Lead Actress (Mabel Del Pozo).
There were 236 total nominees drawn from 79 productions at 35 theaters at this year’s event, held at the Lincoln Theatre in a ceremony that was relatively smooth-running and low-key. Other notable winners were: Happenstance Theater, which garnered three awards in the Helen category, including Outstanding Ensemble, for its ensemble-devised production Impossible! A Happenstance Circus; the Kennedy Center-hosted musical Once as Outstanding Visiting Production and Outstanding Performing, Visiting Production (Dani de Waal); playwriting collective the Welders, which won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company; and Cabaret, which garnered Outstanding Ensemble in a musical in the Hayes category as well as Outstanding Lead Actress (Barrett Wilbert Weed as Sally Bowles).
These were two of only three awards for Signature Theatre despite 18 nominations, including 10 for its critically praised production of West Side Story, which garnered its conductor Jon Kalbfleisch a win for Outstanding Musical Direction.
To see the full list of winners and nominees, visit theatrewashington.org.
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