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Mr. Exceptionally Cool - Kevin Spacey - Picks up Helen Hayes Tribute; Hairspray Big Winner

Signature Theatre’s Hairspray and Arena Stage’s Ruined were among top winners at the 28th Helen Hayes Awards ceremony, which also gave a special tribute to actor Kevin Spacey Monday night at the historic Warner Theatre.

Earlier in the day, the D.C. City Council proclaimed the first annual “theatreWeek” to celebrate the city’s vibrant theater community. The special week started Monday and runs through Sunday, April 29. All week, area theatres will raise funds to help area artists in need. More than 30 theatres are participating in theatre week which is being presented by The Washington Post.

Natalia Janetti
Natalia Janetti

To inaugurate the week, Mayor Vincent Gray declared April 23 Helen Hayes Awards Day. Councilman Jack Evans represented the city council and mayor at the awards.

In a video tribute to Spacey, former President Bill Clinton, a longtime admirer of the Oscar and Tony Award-winning actor, called Spacey a visionary committed to the arts and to mentoring young people aspiring to be in the field of entertainment. On receiving the Helen Hayes Tribute, which recognizes theater artists who exemplify excellence and commitment to their craft, Spacey quoted one of his own mentors, Jack Lemmon.

“If you’ve done well in the business you set out to be successful in, then, it is your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down.”

And Spacey added as he looked out at the audience: “Everybody out there who has a dream…live it!.”

Still earlier at the reception, Spacey grinned and gave direction to a fan taking his picture: “You have your finger over the camera lens.”

Actress and singer Felicia Curry and 14-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Holly Twyford hosted the ceremonies.

Natalia Janetti
Natalia Janetti

Among the notables presenting awards were DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Chair Judith Terra and executive director Lionell Thomas, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, DC Councilman Jack Evans, MSNBC’s Hardball Host Chris Matthews, NPR journalist Nina Totenberg, Kennedy Center Vice President Mickey Berra, Washington Post President and General Manager Stephen Hills, Tony-Award winning lighting designer Brian MacDevitt, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Helen Beth MacArthur, daughter-in-law of Helen Hayes and wife of the late James MacArthur, and Juliette Rappaport, daughter of James MacArthur.

Award winners are:

Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical: Birds of a Feather, The Hub Theatre.

Outstanding Director Resident Musical: Michael Baron, A Year With Frog and Toad, Adventure Theatre.

Outstanding Director Resident Play: Aaron Posner, Cyrano, Folger Theater.

Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community: Jane Lang and Paul Sprenger for leading the development of The Atlas movie theater on H Street, NE.

Outstanding Scenic Design Resident Production: Lee Savage, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Outstanding Lighting Design Resident Production: Andrew F. Griffin, King Lear, Synetic Theater.

Natalia Janetti
Natalia Janetti

Outstanding Sound Design Resident Production - Tie between: Chris Baine, A Bright New Boise, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company & Irakli Kavsadze and Konstantine Lortkipanidze, King Lear, Synetic Theatre.

Outstanding Musical Direction Resident Production: Jon Kalbfleisch, Hairspray, Signature Theatre.

Outstanding Choreography Resident Production: Irina Tsikurishvili and Ben Cunis, King Lear, Synetic Theatre.

Outstanding Costume Design Resident Production: Kendra Rai, The Green Bird, Constellation Theatre Company.

Outstanding Supporting Performer, Non-resident Production: Hugo Weaving, Uncle Vanya, The Kennedy Center.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical: Matthew Delorenzo, Pop!, The Studio Theatre 2nd Stage.

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical: Nova Y. Payton, Hairspray, Signature Theatre.

John Aniello Award recognizing new theatre companies which produced work that is groundbreaking and compelling: Faction of Fools Theatre Company.

Outstanding Lead Actor, Non-Resident Production: Sahr Ngaujah, FELA, Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production: Cate Blanchett, Uncle Vanya, The Kennedy Center

James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Play: Ted van Griethuysen, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play: Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, After the Fall, Theater J.

Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Musical: Hairspray, Signature Theatre.

Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Play: King Lear, Synetic Theatre.

Natalia Janetti
Natalia Janetti

Outstanding Non-Resident Production: Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Arena Stage.

Outstanding Lead Actor: Resident Musical: Euan Morton, Parade, Ford’s Theatre and Theater J.

Outstanding Lead Actress: Resident Musical: Carolyn Cole, Hairspray, Signature Theatre.

Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play: Mitchell Hebert, After the Fall, Theatre J.

Outstanding Lead Actress: Resident Play – A tie: Rena Cherry Brown, Wit, The Bay Theatre Company, Inc. & Erica Sullivan, Venue in Fur, The Studio Theatre.

Outstanding Production – Theatre for Young Audiences: Charlotte’s Web, Adventure Theatre.

Outstanding Resident Musical: Hairspray, Signature Theatre.

Outstanding Resident Play: Ruined, Arena Stage.