2008 Helen Hayes Awards Nominations

OK, awards are a looney process.  And the great news is that the Helen Hayes awards evaluated 189 professional productions with the work of actors in more than 2,000 roles in the Washington DC area in 2007.  And that does not include the bounty of work done by the many fine community theater groups as well as small theater groups that do not achieve  the the 16 performance minimum set by the Helen Hayes Awards.  So we really do live in a region of theatrical riches. 

And without having seen all 189 plays, it’s hard to have too strong an opinion about the nominations just announced

I’m thrilled that the amazing performances, technical elements, direction, and overall production of Souvenir at Studio were recognized, and very happy that Carolee Carmello’s excellent turn as Aimee Semple McPherson got a nod.  And at least the leads of The Musical of Musical, The Musical were nominated.

I was sorry that Nancy Robinette didn’t also get a nomination for her amazing performance in Well, and I’m mystified the The Musical of Musicals, The Musical didn’t get nominations for its supporting players, as an ensemble, costumes, or directing.

Tina Fabrique is Ella FitzgeraldAnd the bone I’ve picked before.  While I fully believe that Tina Fabrique’s performance in ELLA fully earned a nomination, I do not understand why it came in the “resident” category.  With a star, director, sets, costume, and wig that had a life before Arena Stage in previous productions in California, Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut (and at least a subsequent production in St. Louis), it totally escapes me how this production fits the Helen Hayes Awards rule as stated: “In general, if the original intention, as of opening night, is that the production is developed, produced, and contracted for Washington D.C. and is only to be produced in the Washington area, it is then considered a resident production.    All other productions shall be considered non-resident.” 

When I contacted Chad Bauman, Director of Marketing and Communications at Arena Stage, about the nomination he responded, “…when I last wrote, I said that Arena Stage had filed ELLA as a non-resident musical with the Helen Hayes Awards.  As we moved through the technical process of the show, significant elements of the production were updated, changed and adapted for this incarnation.  As such, the artistic staff of Arena Stage felt strongly that it had become an Arena resident production, therefore the production’s designation was changed from non-resident to resident.  I was unaware of the change in designation when I wrote you previously. 

“You should also know that the incorporated updates have since stayed with the production as it traveled to the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.”

(Pictured, right — a publicity photo used for the September Florida Stage stand of Ella)

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