Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Maximilien Baud, Noah Chiet, and Matthew DeLorenzo

Nominees Maximilien Baud, Noah Chiet, and Matthew DeLorenzo

Joel: Where were you when you found out that you had been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, and what was your first reaction?

Maximilien Baud. Photo by W. Iziliaev.

Maximilien: The company had been on a lay off and I had just returned to the states. I was driving home and another Helen Hayes nominee and cast mate (Patrick Wetzel) texted me the news. To be frank – I had never heard of the Helen Hayes and what the awards were about. However I have since learned a lot of who she is and what an Honor it is to be even thought of for such a great honor. I’m truly humbled.

Noah: I was at home, on Facebook (of course), and I saw that some cast mates had posted about being nominated. And then I thought to myself, “Wait! That means I was nominated too!” I was ecstatic! To be nominated is such an honor. We all worked really hard on this show, and it is very cool to be recognized.

Matthew: The night the nominations were announced, I was actually out to dinner with a bunch of friends and my phone had died earlier in the evening. I had no idea I had been nominated until about 10 that night. I finally charged my phone and all notifications, texts and voicemails came popping up telling me, “Congrats on your nomination!” Then I went online, checked the nominations list and screamed a little, jumped up and down with friends, and called my parents. It was a special night.

Lex Ishimoto as young Billy and Maximilien A. Baud as older Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Joel: What were you nominated for and why did you want to play that role in this production?

Maximilien: I was nominated for best supporting performer in a Non-Resident Musical. I  began dancing at 10 and through the years I had seen many ballet dancers transition in to Broadway productions. The thought of this always enticed me and when the opportunity arose to audition for Billy Elliot I jumped on it and the rest is history.

Noah Chiet

Noah:  I was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble for Liberty Smith at Ford’s Theatre. I played the role of “Child Actor,” which meant that I got to play a range of boys from young George Washington, to a young colonist, to a little drummer boy, to a french waiter/accordion player, and many more. I played this part because I was a bit too young to play Benjamin Franklin or Betsy Ross.

Matthew: I am nominated for Supporting Actor in a Resident Musical for my portrayal of Candy Darling in Studio Theatre’s 2nd Stage Musical POP!

My mom (or ‘momager’ as I like to tease) had actually seen on Studio’s website that they were still casting for their new musical premiere and particularly a role of a pre-op transvestite that not only had to be a convincing woman, but sing like one as well. Sounded fun! So, I submitted my headshot and resume with a cover letter asking to audition. As soon as I got the callback material, and sang through ‘Candy’s Lament,’ I fell in love. I spent one night at Studio Theatre auditioning with the team, singing all over the place with my soprano and tenor voice, and then the next day got the phone call offering me the role! I had a feeling this role and I were meant to find each other. And it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thomas Adrian Simpson, Drew Eshelman, Noah Chiet (center , Tracy Lynn Olivera, and Michael Bunce in 'Liberty Smith.' Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Joel: What were the biggest challenges for you performing in this production? 

Maximilien: My specific role involves a lot of variables. In five minutes you have to be able to dance while spinning a chair on it’s heel, control a boy who is attached to a flying rig and be able to do all of this with fog covering the ground you walk on. I had been used to just dancing, sometimes with a partner sometimes with a group of people, however never in a setting as such. It was extremely nerve wracking at first, however I have now been able to adapt to my surroundings.

Noah: Liberty Smith was a world-premier musical so the biggest challenge were the changes and cuts that were made each day. From the beginning of the rehearsal period to the end of previews, it was a totally different show. These changes kept us on our toes, and made each performance fresh and new. Another challenge was the frequent costume changes, in particular, one costume that I wore. There was a scene in the show where I played a cupid. I had to wear a dance belt, under another dance belt, under a diaper, over a sparkly gold uni-tard. Lets just say that things were a little “tight.”

Matthew: Performing a new work is the biggest treat for an actor but also the biggest challenge. We were really given freedom to create these roles, stories and factory vibe that was liberating but challenging at times. Also, creating Candy’s character in the musical while staying true to her real life and image was very important to me.

Joel: What are some of the fondest memories you have about appearing in your production?

Maximilien: The audiences, when we preformed at the Kennedy Center were like no other. You could feel the energy of the audience and it just fed back at you and your performance. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous building the Kennedy Center is, and the talent those walls had seen was extremely special to me.

Noah: Bonding with my castmates is one of the best memories that I have. During this time, we grew very close to each other. We knew we were all in this together. I also got to work with some of DC’s finest, which allowed me to learn and grow as an actor. Also getting to work at one of the most historic theaters in the world was very meaningful, especially for this “partially historic” show. The theatre made a statement before the show even started. Liberty Smith was one of the best experiences of my life, and it is something that I will never forget it.

Matthew: Oh, the stories we all have to tell! I think the show created such a unique bond between everyone involved that we really became a “Factory Family.” We all shared such a unique experience that I don’t think any of us will forget with this show. And whether it was us talking about our naked man in front of a grandmother in the audience or me breaking my gun on stage, we all certainly shared some good laughs!

Matthew DeLorenzo in 'Pop!' Photo by Scott Suchman.

Joel: What’s next for you on the stage?

Maximilien: We just had our opening night of the same production in LA, so for now I’m enjoying the California sun for the next 5 weeks as we continue our shows at the pantages here in LA.

Noah: I will be in The History of Invulnerability at Theater J. It has only been performed once, so it is sort of like another world-premier. It has a really interesting plot, about Jerry Siegel, the creator of Superman. It is a very powerful and compelling show, so I am looking forward to getting started. After that, I will be playing Rudy in Over The Tavern at Olney Theater. It is a very fun show, and I feel that this role suits me very well.  Although both roles are similar in age, there is a big contrast. At Theater J, I will be playing a Jewish boy in a concentration camp, and at Olney I will be playing a 12 year-old Catholic boy, living above a tavern.

Matthew: Actually, my next big step will be graduating from Shenandoah Conservatory this coming May! I plan on moving back to the DC area and begin the exciting life of an actor and auditioning. So please stay tuned and keep an eye out for my name!

Recipients of the 2012 Helen Hayes Awards will be announced this Monday, April 23, 2012 at The Warner Theatre. Here is more information on the event.

Here are the 28th Helen Hayes Awards nominations.

Congratulations to this year’s nominees!



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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.