GALA theater wins big at Helen Hayes Awards, hours after founder’s death

Hours after the death of GALA Hispanic Theatre creative director and co-founder Hugo Medrano, the corporate’s vibrant revival of “On Your Feet!” gained a ceremony-best 9 prizes at the Helen Hayes Awards — D.C. theater’s model of the Tony Awards — on Monday evening at the Anthem.

Born in 1943 in Argentina, Medrano based GALA together with his spouse, Rebecca, in 1976 and oversaw the theater’s growth right into a staple of the native arts scene, together with a transfer into Columbia Heights’ historic Tivoli Theatre in 2005. GALA introduced Monday afternoon that Medrano had died that morning whereas surrounded by household, and his three sons accepted the award for excellent manufacturing of a musical by main the viewers of about 1,600 in a chant of “¡Viva Hugo!”

“On Your Feet!” a Spanish-language staging of the 2015 jukebox that includes the hits of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, racked up greater than twice as many wins as every other present at the Helen Hayes Awards’ first in-person ceremony in 4 years. The triumphs included two trophies for director and choreographer Luis Salgado, plus awards for actors Gaby Albo and Fran Tapia.

“I dedicate this to Hugo’s artistry, vision and leadership within the Latino community,” Tapia stated. “May his spirit continue to inspire us, and may we all carry forward his torch of passion and artistic excellence.”

The Helen Hayes Awards, which have been launched in 1984 however haven’t been held since 2020’s digital celebration due to the pandemic, are break up into two designations: “Helen” for smaller exhibits with largely non-equity actors — the label GALA falls underneath — and “Hayes” for larger price range productions with largely fairness casts.

Signature Theatre’s seismic revival of “The Color Purple,” a stage adaptation of the 1982 novel and 1985 movie a couple of queer Black lady’s feminist awakening within the Twentieth-century South, led the way in which within the Hayes classes with 4 prizes: Nova Y. Payton’s shattering lead efficiency, Solomon Parker III’s supporting flip, Mark G. Meadows’s music path and greatest musical.

“Our first time coming back to the rehearsal room, back to the stage after lockdown, we were a mess,” stated “The Color Purple” director Timothy Douglas. “But what I had the privilege of watching unfold was our artists falling back in love with what they love to do.”

Signature led the Hayes classes with six wins general, because the traditional musical comedy “She Loves Me” triumphed twice — for supporting performer Maria Rizzo and costume design — to go together with its “Color Purple” haul. But the big evening for “On Your Feet!” powered GALA to an evening-high 11 awards, as its productions of “La Casa de la Laguna” and “Revoltosa (The Troublemaker)” gained one prize every.

The Tempest,” a Round House Theatre collaboration with the Folger Theatre that includes stagecraft from the magician Teller, led all performs with 4 wins within the Hayes classes. But two of the largest honors — excellent play and ensemble — went to Studio Theatre’s “John Proctor Is the Villain,” Kimberly Belflower’s barnburner about Georgian teenagers wrestling with “The Crucible” and the #MeToo period.

Three productions claimed three prizes apiece: Olney Theatre Center’s “The Music Man” within the Hayes classes, Synetic Theater’s “Host and Guest” within the Helen classes, and the Kennedy Center’s “Guys and Dolls,” which swept the visiting manufacturing awards.

“Guys and Dolls,” a splashy revival from the Kennedy Center’s Broadway Center Stage sequence, triumphed for excellent visiting manufacturing and performances by Kevin Chamberlin and Phillipa Soo, the “Hamilton” alumna who bested her “Guys and Dolls” co-star, fellow nominee and husband Steven Pasquale.

“Host and Guest,” Synetic’s movement-driven adaptation of a 19th-century epic poem, gained the Helen class for greatest play. Olney’s “The Music Man,” which reimagined Meredith Willson’s golden-age musical with deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors, snagged prizes for its ensemble, co-directors Sandra Mae Frank and Michael Baron, and lead performer James Caverly, who teared up onstage whereas discussing the lack of his father throughout rehearsals final spring.

“The show was one of the hardest emotionally I have ever done, and I was able to radiate joy in a really difficult personal time,” Caverly, a deaf actor greatest identified for the Hulu sequence “Only Murders in the Building,” stated through an interpreter. “This award is for you, Dad.”

Monday’s ceremony marked the second Helen Hayes Awards because the present shifted to gender-neutral appearing prizes, with two winners chosen from 10 nominees in every class. For excellent supporting performer in a play (Hayes), three actors took residence trophies: Billie Krishawn gained for “The Ballad of Emmett Till” at Mosaic Theater, and Hassiem Muhammad and Ryan Sellers shared the second win after melding their voices and bodies to jointly play the monstrous Caliban in “The Tempest.”

The lead performer in a play (Hayes) winners have been January LaVoy for “Fires in the Mirror” at Theater J and Justin Weaks for “There’s Always the Hudson” at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. The Charles MacArthur Award for excellent new play or musical went to Dani Stoller and Awa Sal Secka’s “The Joy That Carries You” at Olney.

D.C.-area actors Naomi Jacobson, Erika Rose, Christopher Michael Richardson and Holly Twyford co-hosted the festivities. The present’s comedic highlights got here when Michael Urie, an actor on the Apple TV Plus sequence “Shrinking” and contemporary off a run in “Spamalot” at the Kennedy Center, repeatedly crashed the stage together with his canine, President McKinley. After Twyford ribbed Urie over his lack of a nomination for the Shakespeare Theatre’s “Jane Anger” — “She’s my emotional support terrier,” Urie stated whereas cradling his canine with fake misery — he offered the Helen Hayes Tribute to the present’s founder, Bonnie Nelson Schwartz.

Administered by Theatre Washington, the Helen Hayes Awards are decided by 40 volunteer judges serving on 5 panels. Monday’s ceremony acknowledged work from 131 eligible productions offered in 2022.

An inventory of winners from all 41 classes will be discovered here.

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