Folger Theatre’s The Taming of the Shrew and Signature Theatre’s Dreamgirls took home the big two prizes at last night’s Helen Hayes Awards, winning statues for outstanding resident play and outstanding resident musical, respectively. Signature’s good night didn’t stop there: The Shirlington-based playhouse won three more statues—-two others for Dreamgirls, and the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical for Paul Downs Colaizzo‘s Really Really, which is currently being produced Off-Broadway.
The evening was a well-paced two-and-a-half hours; Robert Aubry Davis‘ disembodied voice was the host, but the Around Town personality never appeared onstage. Many winners made up for the light awards-show trappings—just a few musical numbers and skits—by talking long. “I told you you could do it!” yelled E. Faye Butler‘s husband as she accepted the statue for outstanding supporting actress, resident play, for Pullman Porter Blues. Her response: “Shut up.” After remarking how similar she is to her character in the play (“she’s an old blues singer who drinks and cusses all the time”) and explaining how the African American railcar workers of the show’s title helped establish the black middle class, Butler cemented the evening’s tone. “I love you Washington,” she said, “and I need a job.”
When David M. Lutken accepted the prize for outstanding actor, nonresident production, for Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie at Theater J, he echoed Butler: “I need a job, too!” And when it was time for the evening’s special presentation—-an appreciation for Actor’s Equity, the union that turns 100 this year—-the organization’s former president Ellen Burstyn made it a full-on motif. “I need a job, too!” she said.
Among the big winners, Studio Theatre’s adaptation of Ralph Ellison‘s novel Invisible Man and MetroStage’s staging of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris each took home three prizes. And noncompetitive prizes went to the ramshackle musical troupe Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue, which won outstanding emerging theatre company, and the Capital Fringe Festival, which won the innovative leadership prize.
The full list of winners is below.
John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue
Outstanding Choreography, Resident Production Joe Isenberg, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Outstanding Costume Design, Resident Production Frank Labovitz, Dreamgirls, Signature Theatre
Outstanding Director, Resident Musical Serge Seiden, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, MetroStage
Outstanding Director, Resident Play Christopher McElroen, Invisible Man, The Studio Theatre
Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Musical Imagination Stage, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Play The Studio Theatre, Invisible Man
Outstanding Lead Actor, Non-Resident Production David M. Lutken, Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie, Theater J
Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical Bobby Smith, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, MetroStage
Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production Felicia Boswell, Memphis, The Kennedy Center
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Musical Natascia Diaz, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, MetroStage
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Play Francesca Faridany, Strange Interlude, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Production Mary Louise Geiger, Invisible Man, The Studio Theatre
Outstanding Musical Direction, Resident Production Jonathan Tuzman, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Outstanding Non-Resident Production Shakespeare Theatre Company, Black Watch
Outstanding Production, Theatre For Young Audiences Imagination Stage, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Outstanding Resident Musical Signature Theatre, Dreamgirls
Outstanding Resident Play Folger Theatre, The Taming of the Shrew
Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production (tie) Misha Kachman, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Todd Rosenthal, Red, Arena Stage
Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production Matthew M. Nielson, The Illusion, Forum Theatre
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical Cedric Neal, Dreamgirls, Signature Theatre
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical (tie) Priscilla Cuellar, Legally Blonde the Musical, Toby’s Dinner Theatre Theresa Cunningham, The Color Purple, Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play E. Faye Butler, Pullman Porter Blues, Arena Stage
Outstanding Supporting Performer, Non-Resident Production Christopher Saul, Hamlet, Folger Theatre
The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical Paul Downs Colaizzo, Really Really, Signature Theatre
The James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Play Matthew McGee, Taking Steps, Constellation Theatre Company
The Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play Steven Epp, The Servant of Two Masters, Shakespeare Theatre Company