At a celebration on January 30, 2023, honoring theater excellence on stages across the Washington, DC, area, theater artists, administrators, patrons, and special guests gathered in the National Theatre’s Helen Hayes Gallery for Theatre Washington’s announcement of nominees for the 37th Helen Hayes Awards, which will be presented on Monday, May 22, at an event at the Anthem. This will be the first in-person Helen Hayes Awards ceremony since 2019. The Awards for productions in the calendar year 2019 were presented virtually in 2020 and productions were not adjudicated during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 or 2021.
Theatre Washington President and CEO Amy Austin and host Christopher Michael Richardson joined by 2020 Helen Hayes Award recipients or those representing recipient productions — Jose Carrasquillo, Kelly Colburn, Ashleigh King, Billie Krishawn, and Greg Watkins — to welcome the audience and announce the nominations. Austin commented, “It’s no secret that the theater industry has been through an unprecedented few years. I am enormously proud of the work that has emerged despite these challenges. The Helen Hayes Awards are one way to recognize and express gratitude to Washington, DC-area theater-makers who provide meaning for our community. To be back in person this year, to reflect on and celebrate the extraordinary work created on our stages, is moving.”
Recognizing work from 131 eligible productions presented in the 2022 calendar year, nominations were made in 41 categories and grouped in “Helen” or “Hayes” cohorts, depending on the number of Equity members involved in the production. Nominations are the result of 40 carefully vetted judges considering 2,146 individual pieces of work, such as design, direction, choreography, performances, and more. Productions under consideration in 2022 included 39 musicals, 97 plays, and 38 world premieres.
Signature Theatre and GALA Hispanic Theatre saw the most number of nominations for a theater, with 30 and 20 respectively. The most nominated productions include ON YOUR FEET! La historia de Emilio y Gloria Estefan ¡EN ESPAÑOL! at GALA Hispanic Theatre (with 15), The Color Purple at Signature Theatre (with 13), John Proctor Is the Villain at Studio Theatre (with 11), and tick, tick…BOOM! at Monumental Theatre Co (with 11).
The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company is recognized each year by the Emerging Theatre Committee of Theatre Washington. This year’s recipients are Ex-Pats Theatre and Prologue Theatre. Qualifying theaters must produce at least one show per year, with a minimum of nine performances each, for two consecutive years.
Bonnie Nelson Schwartz will receive the 2023 Helen Hayes Tribute Award. Nelson Schwartz is the founder and original producer of the Helen Hayes Awards and is a Broadway and television producer with more than 100 plays, films, television programs, and concerts in DC, New York, and London to her credit. Her project Traveling While Black was nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. Schwartz recently produced the Global Climate Uprising Festival for the Glasgow Climate Summit in Scotland.
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 theater throughout the Washington region for more than three decades.
About Theatre Washington
Through collaborative partnerships and programs, Theatre Washington supports the Washington, DC, area’s professional theater community to celebrate artistic achievement, strengthen the theatrical workforce, support institutional growth and advancement, and cultivate collective action. Theatre Washington’s core programs include the Helen Hayes Awards, Theatre Week, Theatre Summit, Theatre Work, and the Taking Care Fund.