40th Helen Hayes Awards Celebrate DC Theatre… and a Critic!

Constellation Theatre celebrates its season and Frank Labovitz, Helen Hayes Awardee for Outstanding Costume Design for Constellation’s School For Lies. Image: Constellation Theatre

The 40th Helen Hayes Awards took place at The Anthem on the District Wharf earlier this month.

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.

Recognizing work from 151 eligible productions presented in the 2023 calendar year, awards were given in 41 categories.

This year, Arena Stage and The Keegan Theatre were the individual theater organizations to receive the most Helen Hayes awards, each with six. Seussical received all six awards for The Keegan Theatre. Arena Stage received three for Swept Away, two for Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, and one for Exclusion. (Arena Stage received an additional award with the Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and ACT Theatre/5th Avenue for Cambodian Rock Band.)

Fela! a co-production from Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre went home with five awards; Solas Nua received three awards for The Honey Trap, and Toby’s Dinner Theatre received three awards for Something Rotten.

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.

Esteemed Washington theatre artists Felicia CurryRayanne GonzalesMaria Rizzo, and Holly Twyford hosted the evening showcasing the vibrant and diverse community of professional theatre artists in the Washington region. Other performers joining them included Quadry BrownCarolyn BurkeVictoria GomezSarah Anne Sillers, and Wood Van Meter with special performances by two-time Award recipient Melody A. Betts, Tuyết Thị Phạm, and James J. Johnson.

A full list of award recipients is available on theatrewashington.org.