Theatre Washington Celebrates 40th Helen Hayes Awards

On May 20, 2024, the 40th Helen Hayes Awards took place at The Anthem on the District Wharf, with over 1,600 theatre-makers and theatre supporters in attendance. Esteemed Washington theatre artists Felicia Curry, Rayanne Gonzales, Maria Rizzo, and Holly Twyford hosted an evening showcasing the vibrant and diverse community of professional theatre artists in the Washington region. They were joined by a performance ensemble of Quadry Brown, Carolyn Burke, Victoria Gomez, Sarah Anne Sillers, and Wood Van Meter with special performances by two-time Award recipient Melody A. Betts, Tuyết Thị Phạm, and James J. Johnson. The ceremony was written by Will Gartshore and co-directed by Will Gartshore and Raymond O. Caldwell. 

Recognizing work from 151 eligible productions presented in the 2023 calendar year, awards were given in 41 categories. Productions under consideration in 2023 included 44 musicals, 107 plays, and 36 world premieres. For the eighth year, the Helen Hayes Awards were given in parallel tracks determined by the ratio of Actors’ Equity contracts involved in an individual production, recognized as recipients in either the “Helen” or “Hayes” categories. For the second year, performers were adjudicated as gender inclusive (vs. gender segregated “actor” and “actress”), with ten or 11 nominees and two recipients in each performance category. 

Topping the list of individual theater organizations receiving Helen Hayes Awards this year was Arena Stage and The Keegan Theatre. Each received six awards for work in 2023. Seussical received all six awards for The Keegan Theatre, including Outstanding Production, Musical Helen. Arena Stage received three for Swept Away (Musical, Hayes), two for Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches (Play, Hayes), and one for Exclusion (Play, Hayes). Arena Stage received an additional award with the Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and ACT Theatre/5th Avenue for Cambodian Rock Band (Play, Hayes). 

Fela! (Musical, Hayes), a co-production from Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre went home with five awards, including Outstanding Production (Musical, Hayes). Solas Nua received three awards for The Honey Trap (Play, Helen) and Toby’s Dinner Theatre received three awards for Something Rotten (Musical, Helen).

Outstanding Productions in 2023 went to The Jungle from STC & Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Visiting Production), A Year with Frog and Toad from Imagination Stage (Theatre for Young Audiences), La Salpêtrière from Taffety Punk Theatre Company (Play, Helen), and My Mama and the Full-Scale Invasion from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and The Wilma Theater (Play, Hayes).

The 40th Helen Hayes Tribute honored Peter Marks, former Theater Critic at the Washington Post. Marks stepped down in late 2023 after serving in this role for 21 years. This award recognizes Marks’ decades of knowledgeable and thoughtful writing about the DC-area, national, and international theatre landscape. He offered nuanced theatre criticism and reporting and  he contributed immensely to the recognition of the artistic vibrancy of our region.

This year’s award show was supported by a variety of hosts and sponsors. Sheila Johnson and The Honorable William J. Newman, Jr., served as this year’s Honorary Chairs alongside Event Chair Jan Du Plain. 

Producing Sponsors included Andrew A. Ammerman, Jan Du Plain, Meg and John Hauge, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Craig Pascal, Alan J. Savada and Will Stevenson. Co-Chairs included Michael Burke and Carl Smith, Claire Carlin, Janet Farrell, Myrna Fawcett, Holly Hassett, Kevin Hennessy, Karina Hou, John Kiser, David A. Lamdin, Abel Lopez, Shahin D. Mafi, Dale A. Mott and Charles D. Urstadt, Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, Robin Phillips, and Annie Simonian Totah of the Sami and Annie Totah Family Foundation.

This year’s host committee included Drs. Nathan and Debbie Ann Doyle Ainspan, Jacqueline Badger Mars, Jeffrey and Stacie Lee Banks, Sherrie Beckstead, Susan and Dixon Butler, Debra Chandler, Prima and Chas Colburn, Leayne Dempsey, Kimberly E. Douglas and Maria Manuela Goyanes, Gary P. Fontaine and O'Shelya Brown, Edie Fraser, Brett and Cynthia Fuller, Handan Gencogluer, Barbara Hawthorn, Randy C. Howes, Debbie M. Jackson & Bill Lammers, Cliftine Jones, Elizabeth A. Karcher & Arthur A. Cohen, Renée Klish, Catherine Leggett, Jason Loewith, Howard Menaker & Patrick Gossett, David & Rita Sirignano, Lisa Stark, Carmen Stull, Graciela Thomen Ginebra, and Linda White.

The 40th Helen Hayes Awards were also supported by Events DC, Destination DC, Giant Food, The Share Fund, TodayTix, and the Washington Post. 

Produced and administered by Theatre Washington, the Helen Hayes Awards honors excellence in professional theatre in the greater Washington area. A full list of award recipients is available:

All Recipients (alpha by first name) 

Recipients by Production (count)

Recipients by Production (alpha) 

Recipients by Theater (count) 

Recipients by Theater (alpha) 

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 four decades.