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Last night’s Helen Hayes Awards ceremony blew by in 75 minutes, with barely-there acceptance speeches and winners sprinting through the aisles. Erin Weaver, Theater Alliance, and Christopher Baine cleaned up, but some deserving categories and winners were left outstanding. Here are Arts Desk’s picks for the 2015 Helen Hayes Awards Awards.
Outstanding Use of Outdated Gender Norms: TheatreWashington’s pre-ceremony email to attendees from Brad Watkins, which suggested a dress code of “creative black tie for the men and party dresses for the women.” In an industry as queer as theater, you’d think TheatreWashington’s concept of gender would be a bit more evolved. Just to spite them, I wore pants.
Outstanding Promo Video: A Ken Burns-style mini documentary on the Lincoln Theatre’s history, an awkward prelude to the proceedings that seemed like a bargaining chip in the theater’s contract with TheatreWashington.
Outstanding Cliché: For her turn as Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony at Theater J, Tovah Feldshuh won Outstanding Performer, Visiting Production. She flexed her guns onstage and preached: “Sometimes the best tunes are made by the oldest fiddles.” Fiddle away, Feldshuh.
Outstanding Request: “Please don’t hate me,” beseeched Weaver as she took the stage to accept her second award in the first 15 minutes of the ceremony, acknowledging the oodles of talent represented in her fellow nominees.
Outstanding Double Entendre: A plug from the podium for TheatreWashington’s annual Summer Hummer fundraiser, a risqué burlesque showcase that raises money for the Taking Care of Our Own fund: “This summer’s Hummer will hum once again… Please, do come.”
Outstanding Intentional Wardrobe Malfunction, Feet: Many of the high-heel-clad winners couldn’t be bothered to waste their precious 30 seconds of speech time worrying about their balance on the way to the stage. Instead, they dashed through the aisles, nimble in bare feet, and used the 10 seconds they saved on an extra thank-you.
Outstanding Intentional Wardrobe Malfunction, Torso: When Flying V won Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, the company’s managing director and artistic director (Jon Rubin and Jason Schlafstein, respectively) removed a shirt and a blazer, respectively, to reveal the Flying V logo and tagline: “Be Awesome.”
Outstanding Dick Joke: Studio Theatre Artistic Director David Muse‘s acceptance speech for the penultimate award, Outstanding Play (Hayes), for Cock. “I’m sure for the rest of the night I’m going to be congratulated that my Cock won a Helen Hayes Award.”
Outstanding Coddling: Guessing that the average Helen Hayes attendee would be too liquored up or too dazzled by the lights of the U Street corridor to find his or her way from the Lincoln Theatre’s ceremony to the Howard Theatre’s afterparty, a total of six blocks, TheatreWashington positioned sign-holding volunteers every few yards along the sidewalk to mark the way. There were also free shuttles, not only for patrons in need of special assistance, but also for those in “extremely high heels.” What, we weren’t supposed to save last year’s branded slippers?