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Local Theater Companies Draw Helen Hayes Award Nominations

Synetic and Signature Well Represented This Year

The Helen Hayes Awards, which recognize outstanding work in professional theater in the Washington region, announced the nominations for this year's awards for work in 2010. Two Arlington companies, Synetic Theater and Signature Theatre, were well represented with a total of 23 nominations, while work in Alexandria drew five more, including four for a production of Washington-based Arena Stage's production of "The Light in the Piazza," which was performed at their temporary space in Crystal City and one for MetroStage, where Lauren 'Coco' Cohn earned an outstanding supporting actress nomination for her work in "Glimpses of the Moon."

Synetic Theater's Irina Tsikurishvili continued her unprecedented record of being nominated for outstanding choreography every year since 1999. Again this year she has pulled in multiple nominations, one for her incredible dance-and-splash work for Synetic's "King Arthur" which was performed on a watery stage in the company's new home venue in Crystal City and again for dryer but no less impressive choreography for the company's "Othello." Her husband, Synetic's Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili, was also nominated twice this year for his direction of "Othello" and "The Master and Margarita."

Both of those productions were nominated for the principal award for non musical plays, the Outstanding Resident Play award and two of the cast members of "Othello" were nominated for the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Resident Play: Philip Fletcher and Alex Mills. What is more, the entire ensemble of Synetic's "Othello" was nominated for the outstanding ensemble in a play award.

Other nominations for work at Synetic Theater included Colin K. Bills' two nominations for outstanding lighting design for "Antony and Cleopatra" and "The Master and Margarita," Konstantine Lortkipandze's nomination for outstanding musical direction for "Othello" and Lortkipandze's nomination shared with Irakli Kavsadze for outstanding sound design for "Othello."

Signature Theatre drew 10 nominations for work on four its shows, all musicals this year. Their third production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" was nominated for the outstanding resident musical award, which continues another remarkable run. The first two times the company staged that musical it also drew nominations in that category and the 1992 version won.

Signature's Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer was nominated for his direction of "Chess." Other nominations for work on that production included Jill Paice for outstanding lead actress in a musical and Jeremy Kushnier for outstanding supporting actor in a musical. Signature's "Sunset Boulevard" drew nominations for Jon Kalbfleisch for musical direction and Ed Dixon as outstanding supporting actor in a musical.

The Signature Theatre musical with the most nominations was Ricky Ian Gordon's "Sycamore Trees" which Signature commissioned and gave its world premiere. It was nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical, its star Marc Kudisch was nominated as were its musical director Fred Lassen and its entire cast was nominated for outstanding ensemble in a musical.

Arena Stage's lovely staging of Adam Guettel's "The Light in the Piazza" in Crystal City was nominated for the Outstanding Resident Musical award and Arena's Artistic Director, Molly Smith, will be competing with herself among others for she was nominated for outstanding direction of a musical for both this show and for "Oklahoma!" which played at their regular venue in D.C. "The Light in the Piazza" also drew a nomination for lead actress Hollis Resnik and its musical director Paul Sportelli.

The winners will be announced on April 25 at an awards ceremony at the Warner Theatre in Washington, which will be followed by a gala reception at the JW Marriott Hotel, which is usually billed as the biggest cast party of the year.

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Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway and writes about theater for a number of national magazines. He welcomes feedback from those he writes about and those he writes for. He can be reached at brad.hathaway@verizon.net.