Judges overlook Williams festival

WASHINGTON — The Signature Theater’s bare-bones revival last year of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Allegro” captured seven Helen Hayes Award nominations, the D.C. area’s annual recognition of professional theater. But the Hayes judges largely overlooked the Kennedy Center’s high-powered Tennessee Williams festival, which was considered a huge artistic success.

Winners will be announced May 9.

Among nominations for “Allegro” were resident musical and director honors for Signature’s a.d., Eric Schaeffer. The 1947 musical was reworked at the behest of Hammerstein’s son, James.

Another “rediscovered” project saluted by the Hayes judges was the Arena Stage production of Frank Loesser’s musical “Senor Discretion Himself,” which was coaxed to the stage with help from Loesser’s widow, Jo. It received six noms, including resident musical and director (Charles Randolph-Wright).

The judges handed down three nominations for the Kennedy Center’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (resident play, thesps Dana Ivey and George Grizzard) and one for “A Streetcar Named Desire” (Patricia Clarkson as Blanche), but none for the center’s “The Glass Menagerie” featuring Sally Field. They also overlooked a sturdy revival of Williams’ “Orpheus Descending” at Arena.

Picking up seven nominations was the musical “Tambourines to Glory” by True Colors Theater Company; six noms went to Stephen Massicotte’s “Mary’s Wedding” at tiny Theater Alliance.

Among non-resident productions, the Kennedy Center’s run of “On Golden Pond” drew nominations for lead actors James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams and supporting performer Craig Bockhorn, and for the nonresident production prize. It opens at Broadway’s Cort Theater April 7.

New play nominees include two from Craig Wright — “Grace” at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and “Melissa Arctic” at the Folger Theater. Ian Cohen’s “Lenny & Lou” at Woolly and Charles Way’s “Merlin and the Cave of Dreams” at Imagination Stage round out the category.

Other resident play nominees included the Shakespeare Theater’s productions of “Cyrano” and “Pericles,” the Folger’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and Theater Alliance’s “Mary’s Wedding.”

Top resident musical nominees included “One Red Flower” and “Elegies: A Song Cycle” at the Signature, “Godspell” at Toby’s Dinner Theater and “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Open Circle Theater.

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