Former Washingtonian of the Year and Helen Hayes founding executive director Betti Brown, Mitchell Shear, Broadway star Karen Akers, Helen Hayes founder Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, and Helen Hayes board president Victor Shargai. Photo by Eric Uecke.
The 27th annual Helen Hayes Awards returned Monday night, and by now you’ve likely read about the winners (Shakespeare Theatre’s Candide, Arena Stage’s Oklahoma, Folger Theatre’s Hamlet), the losers (most theaters apart from those three); the predictable moments (see above), and the surprises (how many non-resident actors actually made the trip from New York). So, here’s our entirely subjective guide to the alternative Helen Hayes Awards, along with photos from the red carpet. And in case you missed the actual winners and losers, there’s a full list here.
Tallest couple: Tommy Tune, and his date for the night, actor and director Tobias Larsson, both of whom stand around 6’6”.
Best political moment: Helen Hayes board chairman Victor Shargai, who drew attention to arts funding cuts, declaring that “live theater in Washington is neither inconsequential, nor a luxury, but a necessity.”
Best adaptation of a song: “That’s Why the Lady’s on a Stamp,” dedicated to the USPS’s new Helen Hayes Forever stamp.
Best plug for said stamp: Joseph Corbett of the USPS, who stated that any letters franked with Hayes’ likeness would travel “quickly, easily, and affordably.”
Longest speech: Molly Smith of Arena Stage, who brandished an entire sheet of paper when she accepted her award for Oklahoma.
Best diva moment: Elaine Paige, who said, “Don’t they know who I am?” after a coupled jostled her at the after-party.
Most unconventional speech: A tie (how Helen-Hayes appropriate), between Candide’s Geoff Packard, who thanked the CVS on Seventh Street and Chop’t, and Superior Donuts’ Johnny Ramey, who thanked the Los Angeles Lakers.
Most insincere statement: Tommy Tune, again, who started his acceptance speech for the Helen Hayes Tribute prize with the words, “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…”
Most disappointing no-show: Laurence Fishburne, who sadly wasn’t there in person to accept his best actor award for Thurgood.
Most likely to be disappointed with real prom following the event colloquially known as “theater prom”: Oklahoma’s 17-year-old Ado Annie, the adorable June Schreiner, who attended with her parents.