At a February 3, 2020 celebration honoring theatre excellence on stages across the Washington area, theatre artists, administrators, patrons, and special guests gathered in the National Theatre’s Helen Hayes Gallery for theatreWashington’s announcement of nominees for the 36th Annual Helen Hayes Awards, which will be presented on Monday, May 18 at an event at the Anthem.
theatreWashington President and CEO Amy Austin was joined by some of the region’s most celebrated and prolific theatre artists, including Tẹmídayọ Amay, Regina Aquino, Frank Britton, Allyson Currin, Felicia Curry, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, Rick Hammerly, Helen Hedman, Sabrina Mandell, and Deidra LaWan Starnes, to welcome the audience and announce the nominations. They will be joined as presenters at the ceremony in May by Justin Weaks, Holly Twyford, Bobby Smith, and Mark Jaster. Felicia Curry (2018 recipient and 2020 nominee) and Naomi Jacobson (13-time nominee and two-time recipient) were announced as co-hosts for the 2020 Awards Ceremony.
Austin commented, “Each year I am delighted to usher in the Helen Hayes Awards season with a celebration of the phenomenal work being produced in the Washington, DC region. This year is no exception. There were 185 eligible productions so I am deeply grateful to our panel of judges for their commitment and thoughtful selections.”
Recognizing work from 185 eligible productions presented in the 2019 calendar year, 255 nominations were made in 47 categories and grouped in “Helen” or “Hayes” cohorts, depending on the number of Equity members involved in the production. Nominations are the result of 40 carefully vetted judges considering 2,570 individual pieces of work, such as design, direction, choreography, performances, and more. Productions under consideration in 2019 included 46 musicals, 139 plays, and 45 world premieres.
Olney Theatre Center and 1st Stage saw the most number of nominations for a theatre, with 27 and 18 respectively. The most nominated productions include: Little Shop of Horrors at Constellation Theatre Company (with 11), Blood at the Root at Theater Alliance (with 10), A Chorus Line at Signature Theatre (with 9), Cabaret at Olney Theatre Center (with 9), Cyrano de Bergerac at Synetic Theater (with 9), and Into the Woods at Ford’s Theatre (with 9).
The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company is selected each year by the Emerging Theatre Committee of theatreWashington. This year’s eligible companies include 4615 Theatre Company, Angel Rose Artist Collective, Best Medicine Rep, and Theatre Prometheus. Qualifying theatres must produce at least one show per year, with a minimum of nine performances each, for two consecutive years.
Bonnie Nelson Schwartz will receive the 2020 Helen Hayes Tribute Award. Nelson Schwartz is the founder and original producer of the Helen Hayes Awards and is a Broadway and television producer with more than 100 plays, films, television programs and concerts in Washington, DC, New York and London to her credit. Her most recent project, Traveling While Black, was nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
Named for actor Helen Hayes – a Washington native and legendary First Lady of the American Theatre – the Helen Hayes Awards has honored excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington region for more than three decades.
The administration and celebration of the Helen Hayes Awards is just one element of theatreWashington’s mission, which is to strengthen, represent, and support all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community, including theatre companies, artists, staff, and diverse audiences of all ages. Over more than three decades of support and advocacy, theatreWashington has played a vital role in the transformation of the city’s cultural identity, with the resulting revitalization of the whole community.
The 2020 Helen Hayes Awards will take place on Monday, May 18th, 2020 at The Anthem – 901 Wharf Street, SW, in Washington, DC.