- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Three productions won top honors last night at the 18th annual Helen Hayes Awards: Arena Stage's "Blues in the Night" for outstanding resident musical, "Mill on the Floss" at the Kennedy Center for outstanding nonresident production and Round House Theatre's "Home" for outstanding resident play.
More than 2,300 people came to the Kennedy Center to attend what was described as "Washington's largest cast party," complete with a reception, dinner, awards ceremony and gala. The awards recognized work done last year in the Washington area, based on 357 productions by 78 professional theaters.
No single theater dominated this year's awards. The Kennedy Center received three; Signature Theatre in Arlington, three; Shakespeare Theatre in downtown Washington, three; Arena Stage in Southwest, two; Studio Theatre in Northwest, two; Round House Theatre, which just moved to Bethesda, two; and Rep Stage in Columbia, two.
Actress S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for TV's "Law & Order," was the host for the third year. The ceremony included celebrity presenters Lynn Redgrave, who will be appearing in "Company" at the Kennedy Center this month as part of the Sondheim Celebration; Brian Stokes Mitchell, who will perform in "Sweeney Todd" in the Sondheim Celebration; Brad Oscar, who grew up in the Rockville area and recently took over the role of Max Bialystock in "The Producers" on Broadway; and Pat Carroll, who was host of the Hayes Awards for 10 years.
James MacArthur, son of playwright Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, for whom the awards are named, also participated.
Four special awards were presented. They included the Helen Hayes Tribute, sponsored by Gilbert and Jaylee Mead and given to veteran actor Emery Battis for his contribution to the American theater.
Local awards presented were:
Outstanding musical direction in a resident play or musical: Jon Kalbfleisch, "Grand Hotel," Signature Theater
Outstanding director of a resident musical: Mary Hall Surface, "Perseus Bayou," Theater of the First Amendment
Outstanding director of a resident play: Thomas W. Jones II, "Home," Round House Theater
Outstanding lead actress in a resident musical: Bernardine Mitchell, "Blues in the Night," Arena Stage
Outstanding lead actor in a resident musical: Brian Childers, "Danny & Sylvia: A Musical Love Story," American Century Theater
Outstanding lead actress in a nonresident production: Jodi Capeless, "Late Nite Catechism," Phoenix Productions
Outstanding lead actor in a nonresident production: Jason Watkins, "A Servant to Two Masters," Kennedy Center
Outstanding lead actress in a resident play: Jenifer Deal, "The Muckle Man," Source Theater Company
Outstanding lead actor in a resident play: Nigel Reed, "The Judas Kiss," Rep Stage
Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play: "In the Garden," by Norman Allen, Signature Theater
Outstanding supporting performance in a nonresident production: Thomas Riis Farrell, "Dirty Blonde," Kennedy Center
Outstanding supporting actress in a resident musical: Kadejah Oni Higdon, "Spunk," African Continuum Theater
Outstanding supporting actor in a resident musical: Michael Sharp, "Grand Hotel," Signature Theater
Outstanding supporting actor in a resident play: Helmar Augustus Cooper, "Jitney," Studio Theater
Outstanding supporting actress in a resident play: Mia Whang, "Far East," Studio Theater
Outstanding sound design in a resident play or musical: Daniel Portaix, "Les Cloissons (Partitions)," Le Neon Theater
Outstanding costume design in a resident play or musical: Robert Perdziola, "Don Carlos," Shakespeare Theater
Outstanding lighting design in a resident play or musical: Chris Parry, "Don Carlos," Shakespeare Theater
Outstanding set design in a resident play or musical (tie): Tony Cisek, "The Judas Kiss," Rep Stage and Ming Cho Lee, "Don Carlos," Shakespeare Theater
Outstanding choreography in a resident play or musical: Ilona Kessell, "Damn Yankees," Toby's Dinner Theater.
Other special awards included the KPMG Award for Distinguished Service to the Washington Theatre Community, to Potomac Electric Power Co.
The Governors Award, established by the Hayes Awards Board of Directors, and given only once before, to Arena Stage founder and former artistic director Zelda Fichandler, was given to Roger Meersman, a local theater critic, University of Maryland theater department faculty member and board member for the Hayes Awards. He was honored for his 40 years of work with local theater.
The Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Washington Theatre Community went to Mark and Merrill Shugoll of Shugoll Research, a market research firm in Bethesda.


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