Helen Hayes Awards Celebrates Stellar Year in Area Theatre
-- Constellation and Shakespeare Theatre Companies Top Awards Lists
-- The Welders Take Home Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre
Washington, DC – theatreWashington celebrated 236 Helen Hayes Award nominees and 47 Award recipients at tonight’s gala event, held at the historic Lincoln Theatre. Now in its 32nd year, the Helen Hayes Awards honored artistic excellence seen on 90-plus professional stages in the greater Washington area during the 2015 calendar year. The community’s broad range was reflected in the evening’s two leading recipients. The long-established Shakespeare Theatre Company, with two venues and a multi-million dollar budget received a total of 13 awards, earning 7 for its striking production of Salomé, including Outstanding Play. Constellation Theatre Company, performing in the intimate, black box space at Source Theatre, was also honored with 7 awards for its production of Avenue Q, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Director of a Musical, awarded to Artistic Director Allison Stockman.
Further acknowledging the community’s encouragement of fresh talent and new perspectives, the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company was given to The Welders, a playwrights’ collective that offers a new model for developing and producing world premiere works for the stage, and which has drawn international attention. Established in 2008, the Aniello Award is named for the late John Laurentzen Aniello Jr., a theatre enthusiast lovingly remembered for his personal support of both emerging and established theatre artists in the Washington area.
The celebratory evening was hosted by E. Faye Butler and Lawrence Redmond, both longtime favorites with Washington audiences, and each a two-time Helen Hayes Award recipient. Like the awards themselves, the evening’s presenters reflected the eclectic strength of the community, ranging from Helen Hayes Award founder Bonnie Nelson Schwartz to husband and wife acting duo Evan Casey and Tracy Lynn Olivera. Other presenters included Sally Boyett, Meredith Burkus, Lisa Dickey, Amber McGinnis, Julie Jacobson, Thomas Keegan, Jefferson Russell, Emily Townley, and Roz White. Presentation of the awards was followed by a Dance Party at The 9:30 Club, an iconic Washington night spot.
For the second year, the Helen Hayes Awards were given in parallel tracks determined by the ratio of Actors’ Equity contracts involved in an individual production. Productions and artists were thus recognized as recipients in either the "Helen" or "Hayes" categories. (Because the distinction is production-specific, a theatre company’s range of work may be nominated in both categories over the course of the year.)
To determine nominees and recipients, a pool of 40 Helen Hayes Award Judges submitted a total of 21,936 scores for 2,940 individual pieces of work (design, direction, choreography, etc.) seen in 2015. The result was 236 nominations drawn from 79 productions at 35 theatres. For a full list of Helen Hayes Awards nominees and recipients, see the attachments below or visit theatreWashington.org.
Building on nearly three decades of service as The Helen Hayes Awards, theatreWashington is the unified voice of Washington area theatre and is the only organization dedicated solely to promoting, representing, and supporting all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community – theatres, artists, company members, and diverse audiences of all ages. The Helen Hayes Awards is a signature program of theatreWashington.