The 2017 Helen Hayes Awards nominations were announced during a festive gathering beginning at 7pm on Monday, February 6 in the Helen Hayes Gallery of Washington’s historic National Theatre.
Joining theatreWashington President Amy Austin was a line-up of leading theatre artists announcing nominations in 47 categories of artistic excellence – Helen Hayes Awards Founder Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, actors Frank Britton, Jade Jones and Susan Lynskey, designer Deb Sivigny, and radio personality Robert Aubrey Davis.
Award recipients will be announced at the Helen Hayes Awards gala event to be held at the Lincoln Theatre on Monday, May 15 with Washington favorite E. Faye Butler as host, followed by an after-party hosted at Washington’s legendary 9:30 Club. Tickets for the combined Awards Ceremony and Dance Party are $275 for premium seating, $150 for balcony seating and will be on sale by March 1. Doors will open at 6pm, and the show starts at 7:30pm. Dress: Creative Evening Attire.
In keeping with more than three decades of tradition, the nominations announcement is expected to draw approximately 100 theatre leaders, artists, and patrons who will gather to hear the names of nominated artists and productions, and to celebrate the eclectic, diverse, and vital Washington theatre community.
Nominations are the result of a rigorous year-long process in which carefully vetted judges attended 200 eligible productions, including 41 world premieres. Recognizing work produced in the 2016 calendar year, nominations are made in “Helen” or “Hayes” cohorts, depending on the number of Equity members involved in a production. A complete list of the 2017 Helen Hayes Awards nominees will be posted by 9pm on February 6.
Austin commented, “The announcement of nominations is part of the celebration of the spectacular work we saw in 2016 on the amazing spectrum of stages in the region. It’s all about celebrating world class theatre that happens throughout the Washington area. The Helen Hayes Awards and nominations recognize the depth of talented people who make it happen from the actors to the designers.”
During 2016, five recently-formed theatre companies completed the two-year process to be eligible for the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. The recipient will be announced at the Helen Hayes Awards on May 15, and will be chosen from among Convergence Theatre, InterAct Story Theatre, Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Nu Sass Productions, and Rainbow Theatre Project.
The Helen Hayes Awards, now in its 33rd year, recognizes outstanding achievement in more than 90 professional theatres across the Washington metropolitan area. Named for the legendary First Lady of the American Theatre, Helen Hayes, the award celebrates the artists and companies whose excellence exemplifies a standard of artistry that has made Washington a thriving, internationally recognized theatre town.
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.
The Lincoln Theatre, built in 1922, is the cultural center of the dynamic U Street neighborhood. Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey performed on its stage, along with such acclaimed artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughn. The 9:30 Club has an equally stellar history. Its stage has been home to the likes of R.E.M., the Go-Go's, Cyndi Lauper, 10,000 Maniacs, Bob Dylan, Rufus Wainwright, Adele, and David Bowie.