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At last night’s boozier, extra-festive, less-emphasis-on-the-awards-part Helen Hayes Awards at the National Building Museum, Signature Theatre walked away with the most trophies, a lot of people had a lot of fun saying a certain word, and if you were willing to hand over $5, you got slippers. Because no one’s the best at the Helen Hayes Awards, here’s what was most outstanding.
Outstanding Neckline, Resident Male: Victor Shargai. The honoree of last night’s Helen Hayes Tribute served as board chair of what is now TheatreWashington from 1997 to 2013. Resplendent in an open-collar dress shirt that exposed skin nearly down to sternum altitude, Shargai looked dapper and comfortable, like a man who, having discovered the necktie is naught but a cruel yoke, has resolved to free his mind and the neck supports it. To the Victor go the spoils.
Outstanding Reaction Shot, Resident Female: Rebecca Sheir. The host of WAMU’s Metro Connection is engaged to marry Eric Shimelonis, who took home an HHA last night for outstanding sound design, resident production for his work on 1st Stage’s Never the Sinner. The cameras captured her euphoria during Shimelonis’ 30-seconds-or-less at the podium, establishing a photogenic standard to which partners and spouses of future winners shall aspire.
Outstanding Doppelgangers: Ed Gero, one of the ceremony’s hosts, and Stacy Keach, who presented the award for outstanding director, resident play. The two Henry IV actors shared a stylish moment onstage in nearly identical berets.
Outstanding Gerund: “Fucking.” No utterance of the title Stupid Fucking Bird went without a flourish with its middle word—-and since the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company play was nominated for eight awards (and won two), that was a whole lot of “fucking.”
Outstanding Vegetarian Option: An eggplant pomegranate dip with what appeared to be Terra Chips. Not too sweet, not too tangy, and easy to eat while balancing a gin-and-tonic in your elbow.
Outstanding Sing-Off: Accepting her outstanding supporting actress prize for Woolly Mammoth’s The Convert, Dawn Ursula sang some of her thank-yous—-until the onstage chorus sang her off with “So Long, Farewell.”
Outstanding Hashtag Abuse: The official hashtag, #hha30, was everywhere—-the mouths of the MCs, the projector screens, even the wristbands.
Outstanding Accessory: Helen Hayes slippers, sold at “shoe check” (which, who knew?) for $5, the better to dance the night away in, at least until they turn the lights on at 11:59 p.m. At least a few of us will never understand why anyone would purchase shoes that are painful and/or difficult to walk in—-you have ONE JOB, shoes!—but as this baffling sociological phenomenon shows no signs of abating, TheatreWashington’s solution is economical and humane. Of course, bare feet work, too.
Outstanding Tradition, We Guess: Ties for awards. Here’s why that happens.
Outstanding Summer Vacation: TheatreWashington CEO Linda Levy revealed plans for a TheatreWashington cruise to Bermuda this August, populated by D.C.-area stage celebrities—which means my fantasies of starring in a real-life rendition of Anything Goes are finally coming true.
Outstanding Attention Span: However you liked it. Surely many will note that the layering of party and awards show only served to distract from the latter, but in theory, the room’s layout—-prize-giving in the center, booze and appetizers on the sides—-made any approach to the night possible.