Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Washington's 2003 Helen Hayes Awards Honors Mitchell, Baranski, and Hammerly
The Washington theater community rewarded its own last night at the 19th Annual Helen Hayes Awards. The ceremony took place in the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center and was presented by a number of DC favorites. Headed up by Jane Pesci-Townsend and Marty Lodge, the presenters included E. Faye Butler, Brian Childers, Desiré DuBose, Doug Eskew, Bill Grimmett, Jason Kravits, Donna Migliaccio, Howard Shalwitz, Mia Whang and Halo Wines. The fluid "tag team" style of presentation was not the ordinary awards show fare. However, the very efficient method made for an interesting night that was filled with emotion, laughter and more than a few surprises.
One of those surprises was Rob Berman's (Sunday in the Park With George) win over Jonathan Tunick (Company) in the category of Outstanding Musical Direction. Yet another surprise was Rick Hammerly's win of the Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical Award for his portrayal of Hedwig in Signature Theatre's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Mr. Hammerly delivered a rousing acceptance speech that will not be soon forgotten. Stating that it was, " ... so nice to be out without a wig on ... ," Hammerly went on to recognize other members of the arts community with his own award called the Charo Award. As he listed the names of these "recipients" he led the audience in an energetic chorus of "coochee, coochee."
Even though Hammerly beat out Broadway vets John Barrowman (Company), Raúl Esparza (Sunday in the Park With George), and Brian Stokes Mitchell (Sweeney Todd) not all of them went home empty handed. Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell garnered the Outstanding Lead Actor, Non-Resident Production Award for his starring role in Man of La Mancha. His Sweeney Todd co-star, Christine Baranski, won the Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Musical Award.
The most joyous acceptance of the evening was from Lori Tan Chinn (South Pacific), who showed up to enthusiastically accept her award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical despite suffering with a bout of laryngitis. Jon Cohn (The Taste of Fire), who can currently be seen in Olney Theatre's production of The Miser picked up the award for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play and thanked his high school drama teacher who was sitting in the audience. Another veteran of the Washington theater scene, Nancy Robinette, was honored with the Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play Award for her work in Shakespeare Theatre's production of The Little Foxes.
A new award was added to the lineup this year. The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Musical was created in honor of the late playwright and husband of Helen Hayes. Presented by James MacArthur, the son of Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, the award was given to Arena Stage's acclaimed production of Polk County. Additionally, the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play went to Round House Theatre's Shakespeare, Moses, and Joe Papp.
As in years past, two corporately sponsored awards were distributed. The KPMG Award for Distinguished Service to the Washington Theatre Community went to Lockheed Martin for their support of venues such as The Studio Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts and the Strathmore Arts Center, among others.
The Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser was the recipient of The Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community. The honor was bestowed on Mr. Kaiser for his role in the creation of the Sondheim Celebration and its impact on Washington theater.
There was more than one tie at this year's awards ceremony. James Kronzer (Shakespeare, Moses, and Joe Papp) and Hugh Landwehr (The Little Foxes) both took home trophies for Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production. Also, Toby Orenstein (Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical) and Christopher Ashley (Sweeney Todd) received the Outstanding Director, Resident Musical Award with Sweeney Todd also winning Outstanding Resident Musical. Synetic Theater, who received three Helen Hayes Awards, walked off with the Outstanding Play Award for their take on Hamlet.
The Helen Hayes Awards sponsors programs that include the Canadian/Washington Partnership and the Washington Theatre Legacy Project. Information about these programs or the awards ceremony may be found by logging on to www.helenhayes.org.
Complete List of Winners
Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production
Outstanding Costume Design, Resident Production
Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Production
Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production (tie)
Outstanding Supporting Performer, Non-Resident Production
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Play
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play
Outstanding Lead Actor, Non-Resident Production
Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Musical
Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical
Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Play
Outstanding Musical Direction, Resident Production
Outstanding Choreography, Resident Production
Outstanding Director, Resident Musical (tie)
Outstanding Director, Resident Play
Outstanding Non-Resident Production
The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Musical
The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play
Outstanding Resident Musical
Outstanding Resident Play