A 2011 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary

Earlier I joked about Helen Hayes being like Theatre Prom.

I was right. In so many ways.

But instead of writing a plain ol’ review of this year’s Helen Hayes Awards- I thought I would just present to you my Helen Hayes day, blow-by-blow ala one of many Bill Simmons’ running diaries.

If you want a complete list of the winners you can read them here, but if you want to know what Helen Hayes was really like, read on.

8:12 AM

“Patrick, I’m about to cry. I just woke up with pink eye. Fml. Ok I am crying.”

I had it all set for the night’s #DramaProm. Monday I bought the perfect suit with Brittany and I learned how to tie a bow-tie. I even took the day off of work so I could focus all my energy on getting prepared for the big night. There wasn’t anything that could go wrong.

But then it did.

My date woke up and discovered she has suffered the same fate as Vinny: Conjunctivitis. She says she can get some drops for it- but I tell her to get an official diagnosis from a doctor, knowing that something as contagious as Pinkeye would rule her out for tonight.

I tweet out a message of frustration and cross my fingers- maybe she’ll be alright.

11:00 AM

We Love Arts: The Real Inspector Hound

I put the potential date emergency out of my mind as spend the morning writing a review for the show I saw this past weekend. I begin to wonder why didn’t I write this Sunday night and I remember I spent last night looking up British succession on Wikipedia after getting caught up in Royal Wedding fever. Did you know that the King of Norway is 68th in line for the British throne?

12:06 PM

After calling my date, I find out that the Pinkeye status has been confirmed and she’ll have to bow out of the night’s festivities. I manage to find a replacement to take her ticket. I continue on with the day’s preparations.

1:07 PM

After writing the review, I wrote up a preview of the night for We Love DC, and hit the gym. At the risk of getting my swell on so much that I won’t fit into my new suit, I decide to workout because I always feel better when I go to the gym.

Photo courtesy of
‘IMG_5142′
courtesy of ‘Fancy Mandi’

2:11 PM

After a good workout I hit up Robek’s for a post-workout smoothie. I usually make my own, but I was out of protein (where’s the Protein ma!)

2:30 PM

I head down to Golden Shoe Repair in Ballston to pick up my newly shined shoes. It was a good visit: the shoes looked great, the cost of the shine was cheap, and I became mayor of the place when I check-in on Foursquare.

2:34 PM

I travel to Target to pickup some last minute supplies including conditioner for my hair and a suit bag.

3:04 PM

Now with everything I need for #DramaProm I realize I am channeling myself circa 2002.

5:01 PM

After spending time pre-drafting tweets for the night and following every nominated theatre at Helen Hayes (for auto-completion help), I start getting dressed and start pumping myself up (aka Beast Mode).

5:46 PM

After getting the most impeccably dressed I’ve been in my entire life I arrive at Clarendon Metro Station to go to Metro Center. Before leaving I ask my roommate to take a photo of me to tweet prior to leaving but I find out he took two photos of me blinking. I decide to take a photo of myself while on the Metro. My neighbor saw me walking to the Metro and said I looked great. Tiffany said I looked like a PBS host.

6:10 PM

I arrived downtown where a homeless man notices my nice suit and proceeds to solicit me Jesus paraphernalia.

So far this new look isn’t working.

I walk by the Warner Theatre on the way to the Chairman’s Reception at the JW Marriott. My date couldn’t meet me for the reception but TBD’s Maura Judkis was game to check out the event with me (we’re blogging buddies). She arrives shortly after me and we check out the Red Carpet and take several photos.

6:32 PM

Maura and I run into some actors that take a special interest in her. Looks like my suit can’t even get the attention of the males.

6:45 PM

We decide to head for the buffet line to sample some of the cuisine. It was going to be a long night and we needed all the fuel we could get. While I was heaping tons of breaded salmon onto my plate Maurice Hines arrives, causing a stir among the media folks. Maura manages to snap a photo while I am left holding a plate of fish.

We manage to find a seat next to fellow theatre critic Rich Massabny. He piles on the charm for Maura while I fall in love with the BBQ Short Ribs- they practically disintegrated into your mouth!

My unreliable BlackBerry runs low on power and I plug it into a nearby outlet.

7:30 PM

The guest at the reception are being urged to finish up and head for the Warner Theatre where the ceremony will be held. Upon hearing that the open bar was closing, the throngs head there for one last drink instead.

I check my phone only to discover that it was a dead outlet- and the phone wasn’t charging after all. How am I going to live-tweet with a dead phone?

7:37 PM

As Maura and I head to the Warner, we ask a passer-by to take a photo of us together before splitting up, it comes out blurry (what is up with my bad luck with photos?). I head to the McDonald’s next to the theatre to wait for my date and charge my phone. Upon entering the establishment I spot a table of actors in suits eating before the show.

8:00 PM

My date arrives and we head into the theatre with just enough time to spare before the show starts. She asks me if it’s ok for me to have my phone out as the lights dim, I respond that if they invited me to tweet the show- they better be ok with my phone out.

The show opens with a great parody performance of West Side Story’s “Tonight“. It was highly enjoyable and poked fun at the Virginia/Maryland/DC divide. Memorable lines included, “Virgina’s for lovers and Maryland has crabs!

I get roasted on Twitter for tweeting out that line with little context other than a hashtag. I get it, people live in Maryland- they kind of like it there.

8:10 PM

Sam isn’t happy Maura and I are tweeting every little thing that is happening at Helen Hayes- well tough beans.

8:20 PM

No Rules Theatre entertains with an on-stage Rock Paper Scissors battle, and we find out that the nominees will receive candy necklaces, adding to an already candy-packed night. With a candy snack bar at the reception and cake-pops handed out as patrons left for the awards I wonder if actors have an affinity for sugar that equals little children.

8:29 PM

Best Director in a Resident Play is a tie- a trend that will continue throughout the night to mixed reactions among the crowd.

8:33 PM

The Manzari brothers put on a tap dance before presenting their awards, which surprise some theatre insiders.

8:37 PM

Best line I’ve ever heard in an acceptance speech. Meanwhile rumors start to fly that Arena’s Oklahoma! will sweep after winning the first two awards they were nominated for.

8:48 PM

Tom Teasley accepts his Helen Hayes award for Outstanding Sound Design wearing a fanny pack. Who wears a fanny pack?

8:50 PM

The Helen Hayes stamp is presented complete with a marketing pitch from the USPS and a fancy song and dance number.

8:54 PM

A string of awards are given to people who chose not to attend. While I was disappointed Laurence Fishburne wasn’t able to make it, it did make the night go a lot faster…

9:02 PM

The awards thank their sponsor through a song all about them. Clever.

9:15 PM

Geoff Packard wins Outstanding Lead Actor (Resident Musical) and proceeds to thank the CVS on 7th Street and the Chop’t Salad in Chinatown. BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH EVER! He also gave a shout out to his fiancée and invited us to his wedding.

9:28  PM

My crummy BlackBerry dies and my date lends me her Android to tweet out the rest of the night. Tweeting on that thing was horriffic. First the Twitter application wouldn’t let me login and using the mobile webpage was slow and led to many typos. This experience has seriously caused me to think twice about getting an Android.

Presenter Michael Dove pulls a James Franco and tweets from the stage.

9:32 PM

Just when the show was going smoothly along until we reach the Helen Hayes tribute to Tommy Tune. I’m all for the honoring but did it need an A&E biography on him? The film outlining his life was way too long and definitely slowed down the night.

9:49 PM

Rumors start over disapproval the number of non-locals winning in the resident production categories. That would explain why quite a few winners kept saying that, “DC is such a wonderful theatre town- I really hope to work here again soon!”

10:05 PM

Erike Rose wins Outstanding Lead Actress (Resident Play) and goes on to say that her show, In Darfur, wasn’t the best date night show. Makes sense.

10:24 PM

The award ceremony is finally over after a closing number. My date and I head on over to the JW Marriott for the real party: The Awards Gala.

10:30 PM

As we take the escalator down to the Gala she spots a long-time friend and immediately latches on to him. Oh no, #DramaProm is shaping up to be like my high school prom.

11:05 PM

The DJ plays, “Too Close” and we all realize have been transported to our high school proms. My date is nowhere to be seen. However I do find a girl who took the idea of #DramaProm to heart- and wore her high school prom dress to Helen Hayes.

11:50 PM

I find my pal Brieahn and dance for a bit with her Solas Nua crowd, during which I observe another Prom/HS Dance favorite: the group of guys covered in sweat violently dancing it out on the floor. Brie tells me it’s the crowd from Synetic and it all makes sense.

12:07 AM

I run into my pal Chelsea, the new social media guru for Forum Theatre and we exchange pleasantries.

12:16 AM

I find my date and find out she had a fun photoshoot with her friend in the photobooth. It’s official- #DramaProm has reach #HSProm levels.

1:06 AM

After wallowing my pities in drinks I finally make it home where I figured out how to recap tonight’s event: a running diary of the day.

3:54 AM

I finish the first draft of the post and silently curse myself- knowing I have to get up in a few hours and catch up on all the work I missed while I was doing this.

Patrick has been blogging since before it was called blogging. At We Love DC Patrick covers local Theatre, and whatever catches his eye. Patrick’s blog stories, rants, and opinions have been featured in The Washington City Paper, Washington Post Express, CNN, Newschannel 8 Washington, and NBC Washington. See why Patrick loves DC.

You can e-mail him at ppho [at] welovedc.com

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3 thoughts on “A 2011 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary

  1. Love it. This is far more entertaining than a dry account of all the winners!

    But seriously, what was with all the ties? And I don’t mean the ones around your necks. It’s odd to me that there were so many award ties.

  2. Pingback: The Helen Hayes