D.C. theater picks up 39 nominations

The 25th anniversary of D.C.’s Helen Hayes Awards looks to be bountiful for the Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., as its musical-laden sked picked up 39 nominations and dominated many categories.

Signature’s scaled-down staging of “Les Miserables,” currently playing an extended SRO run, received 13 noms, including one for resident musical, a category that also included three other Signature shows: “The Visit,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Ace: A New Musical Adventure.” Signature’s growing reputation for its musicals has taken an additional leap since the move to a new facility in 2007. Artistic director Eric Schaeffer scored three helming bids, for “Les Miz,” “The Visit” and “Ace.”

Also competing for resident musical are MetroStage’s “Rooms: A Rock Romance,” which transfers to Off Broadway in March, and Studio Theater’s “Jerry Springer: The Opera.” “Rooms” will vie also for the Charles MacArthur Award for new play or musical, as well as for Scott Schwartz’s direction, Natascia Diaz and Doug Kreeger’s performances.

The Hayes Awards recognize professional productions, both resident and touring, mounted in the Washington area during the previous year. The ceremony will be held April 13 at the Warner Theater.

The Shakespeare Theater’s 19 nominations included seven for its production of “Twelfth Night,” while Synetic Theater’s movement-based “Romeo and Juliet” nabbed six. Noms for Studio Theater productions included lead actress mentions for both Holly Twyford and Tana Hicken in Athol Fugard’s “The Road to Mecca.” The Folger Theater’s eerie staging of “Macbeth” drew nominations for resident play and for its co-directors, the magician Teller (of Penn and Teller) and Aaron Posner.

The Hayes award for lead actor in a resident play has been renamed the Robert Prosky Award in honor of the late thesp, a longtime member of the Arena Stage troupe. In addition, Prosky this year received a supporting actor nom for his performance in Arthur Miller’s “The Price” at Theater J.

Among touring shows, “Frost/Nixon” at the Kennedy Center drew four bids including actor for Stacy Keach and Alan Cox.

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