Entertainment, Special Events, The Features

A 2014 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary

Helen Hayes Awards 2014

Last night marked the 30th anniversary of the Helen Hayes Awards, and theatreWashington spared no expense in creating a blow-out bash. The annual celebration of Washington DC Theatre, aka Drama Prom, sported a new format and venue. Moving from the Warner Theatre to the National Building Museum gave the awards ceremony a much more casual feel as patrons mingled about throughout the three-act show. Victor Shargai received the Helen Hayes Tribute and Woolly Mammoth’s Stupid Fucking Bird, Ford & Signature’s Hello Dolly!, and Olney Theatre Center’s A Chorus Line went home with Best Resident Play and Musical honors.

However if you want a complete list of the winners you can find those here. Instead I offer you a tradition now four years running: my complete breakdown of my day (and night) with Helen (and others).

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30th Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced

Helen Hayes Awards Nominations

Tonight Theatre Washington announced the nominees for the 30th annual Helen Hayes Awards. The DC Theatre community gathered on the stage of the National Theatre, a departure from the Helen Hayes Gallery where the nominees were announced in previous years. The new backdrop made for a great setting for both the people on-hand and the many who watched the nominations through Theatre Washington’s live webcast.

Arlington’s Signature Theatre led the board with a total 20 nominations while Woolly Mammoth Theatre led shows with a total eight nominations for their production of Stupid Fucking Bird.

Nominees for Outstanding Resident Play include Woolly Mammoth’s Stupid Fucking Bird and The ConvertRound House Theatre’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Arena Stage’s Good People and The Mountaintop, Ford Theatre’s The Laramie Projectand Folger Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet.

Nominees for Outstanding Musical include Olney Theatre’s A Chorus Line, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumKeegan Theatre’s Cabaret, Signature Theatre’s GypsyFord & Signature Theatre’s Hello, Dolly!Signature Theatre’s The Last Five Years, and The Rocky Horror Show from Studio Theatre 2nd Stage.

This will be the last year before the awards takes on a new format, however one notable change this year is the split of choreography awards into two categories: choreography in a musical and Outstanding movement in a play. Also the term “non-resident”, used for tours and other shows that are simply hosted in the city, has been changed to “visiting.”

The full list can be found below, the winners will be announced on Monday April 21st, 2014 at the National Building Museum, a change from the awards usual home at The Warner Theatre. With a new venue and a new show format allowing attendees to roam about the floor with drinks in hand; I can assure you that this year’s Drama Prom Diary will be one for the ages.

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Reaction: TheatreWashington Changes Helen Hayes Awards Rules, Splits Into Two Groups


In an announcement this past Tuesday, theatreWashington announced sweeping changes to the rules among which is a division of the awards into two groups. The biggest change is meant to divide professional productions apart from smaller shows.

The revisions come after a year-long study which was brought into the spotlight after the larger theatre companies in DC wrote a letter to theatreWashington asking for reform to the awards process or else they would, “rethink their future involvement.”

After combing through the details on theatreWashington’s site, here are the points the DC Theatre scene needs to know and my take on them.

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Entertainment, Special Events, The Features

A 2013 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary


Yesterday I spent the night with Helen and she did not disappoint. For many in the DC theater scene, the past week was spent searching for dresses (especially those with pockets), getting manis & pedis, and making sure that hair was nothing less than perfect. It was all for the 29th Annual Helen Hayes Awards, Washington’s biggest night in theater where the arts community honors the past year of shows.

If you want a list of the winners you can find those here. Instead I offer you a tradition three years running: my complete breakdown of my day (and night) with Helen.

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Entertainment, The Features

29th Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced

Helen Hayes Rebecca Sheir Bob Magadan

Last night Theatre Washington announced the nominees for the 29th annual Helen Hayes Awards. The DC Theatre community watched from both the Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre as well as online, a first for the organization. The webcast was beautifully hosted by two darling voices of DC radio: WAMU’s Rebecca Sheir and WTOP’s Bob Madigan.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company led the board with 19 total nominations. Among the nominees for Outstanding Resident Play included Shakespeare Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity; Studio Theatre’s Invisible Man; Theater J’s Our Class; and Folger Theatre’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Ford’s Theatre’s 1776; Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s The Color Purple; Signature Theatre’s Dreamgirls; MetroStage’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris; and Keegan Theatre’s Spring Awakening rounded out the slate in the Outstanding Resident Musical category.

Dizzy Miss Lizzies Roadside Revue will also be recognized with the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.

Looking at the list, the most notable snub this year is Synetic who earned 15 nominations last year and did not get a single one this year. On Twitter the group remarked that it was a, “Disappointing night.” Woolly’s Chad Deity and Folger’s Taming of the Shrew are both the most nominated show with nine, but did anybody see the show with the second most nominations: The Color Purple at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, MD? MetroStage in Alexandria should also be thrilled this morning after earning seven nods.

There’s usually some star power in the non-resident production nominations but there isn’t much this year. The most well-known name among the nominees is Kathleen Turner for her performance in Arena’s Red Hot Patriot. Will she show up to accept a possible award in April?

The full list can be found below, the winners will be announced on Monday April 8th, 2013 at The Warner Theatre.

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The Features, We Love Arts

Theater Spotlight: Q&A with The Theatre Lab’s Deb Gottesman

Dress rehearsal of Theatre Lab’s Musical Institute for Teens Production of Rent / Photo by Paul Oberle

Founded by Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro, The Theatre Lab’s mission is to transform lives through theater by making training accessible to everyone, regardless of age, income, or experience level.

The Theatre Lab leads programs and classes ranging from beginner to professional level.  They also develop numerous initiatives for marginalized populations within DC, including giving out more than $78,000 in scholarships to disadvantaged students each year.

Perhaps most notably, The Theatre Lab’s Life Stories program teaches people from typically marginalized populations like incarcerated and at-risk youth, seniors, critically ill children, and homeless women in recovery to create original dramatic works based on their real-life experiences.

On November 12, DC’s Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts celebrated 20 years at its annual Cabaret Benefit. For the organization’s anniversary, founder Deb Gottesman was kind enough to talk with me about The Theatre Lab’s progress over the last two decades.

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Entertainment, The Features

A 2012 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary

Large crowds of peers; suits and dresses of all shapes and sizes; a night full of brief greetings and close encounters. It’s no wonder why DC’s Helen Hayes Awards Gala is affectionately known as Drama Prom. Even though last year’s initial experience had its ups and downs, unlike high school prom you can try for a better time next year!

So I did just that and I had a wonderful time despite some odd similarities. Here’s how Washington’s biggest night in theatre unfolded through my eyes. If you are interested in finding out who walked away with the coveted hardware just scroll down to the bottom of the post.

9:39 AM

I woke up with a shooting pain in my lower back and a stomach feeling less than 100%. Spending the past weekend at Cafe Citron probably wasn’t the best idea. On top of my body ailments the Orange Line decided to break down (big surprise), delaying my commute into the office.

Not a great start to Prom day but I kept a positive attitude a trudged along the work day.

2:39 PM

I couldn’t believe it was happening. Again. A year after my Helen Hayes date woke up with pinkeye and had to bail, my date woke up terribly ill and was unable to attend the festivities. I began to wonder if I have been cursed or if the ghost of Helen Hayes was haunting me.

Luckily fellow arts writer Joanna saved the day and stepped into Jenn’s place, saving me from awkwardly roaming the Helen Hayes Awards alone.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

28th Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced

The Oscars maybe in the books but there’s still one more big show in the DC Arts Scene. Tonight the nominations for the 28th annual Helen Hayes Awards were announced in the Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre.

Known as one of the country’s most prestigious cultural honors, the awards recognize the best of DC Theatre of the past year. The awards ceremony is affectionately known as “Drama Prom” (at least to me) and is one of the biggest theatre events of the area. Last year I had a blast covering the event and Jenn and I are excited to cover this year’s festivities.

Without further ado, here are the nominees (with links to our reviews)!

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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.

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Entertainment, The Daily Feed

The DC Theatre Community Gears Up For Theatre Prom 2K11!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘dbking’

My pal Brieahn J. DeMeo calls it Theatre Prom.

I call it the fanciest event I ever had to get dressed for.

Sure I’ve been to weddings, but it’s easy when you know you just have to rent a tux and you are all set. For this one I had to call in the big guns- I rang up Brittany and she set me straight.

I’m talking about the Helen Hayes awards, the annual night where the local theatre community honors the outstanding plays and musicals of the past year. It’s kind of like the Tony’s- but for stuff that happens at Kennedy Center and Arena Stage. 26 awards will be presented tonight as well as three special awards to Ford’s Theatre (Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community), Factory 449 and No Rules Theatre Company (Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company), and stage legend Tommy Tune will be honored with the he Helen Hayes Tribute.

Tonight also marks the debut of a Helen Hayes commemorative stamp issued by the United States Postal Service.

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Entertainment, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

2011 Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced

The gathering at the Helen Hayes gallery at the National Theatre looked like any other networking event. Wine and appetizers were served as people made introductions and small talk. However a pianist playing soft music and a lit podium revealed that this wasn’t an ordinary reception.

It was the nominations announcement for the 27th Annual Helen Hayes Awards, DC’s premiere theatre awards honoring the past year in local professional theatre.

Helen Hayes was a DC-born actress who became known as the, “First Lady of the American Theatre”. Her legacy includes being one of 12 people who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Besides having the awards named after her there is also a theatre on Broadway that also shares her name.

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