Local Theaters and Performers Win Big in Helen Hayes Awards

Round House, Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre and Olney Theatre receive awards


Performers during "In the Heights," which was awarded outstanding production in a musical.

Round House Theatre/Youtube

Four Montgomery County theaters took home awards for their shows and performances at this year’s Helen Hayes Awards on Monday night.

Bethesda’s Round House Theatre received five awards, two of which were shared with the Olney Theatre Center for their joint staging of In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 musical. The Imagination Stage in Bethesda won two awards, and Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park was also recognized.

Round House and Olney Theatre shared the awards for outstanding production in a musical, and Rayanne Gonzales of In the Heights was named outstanding lead actress in a musical. Jon Kalbfleisch won outstanding musical direction for Caroline, or Change at Round House, and the theater’s production of Or won for outstanding costume design and outstanding supporting actress, to Kendra Rai and Erin Weaver, respectively.

“We are thrilled with how the year went and all the awards that we were nominated for and received,” Ryan Rilette, artistic director of Round House, said Tuesday. “I’m especially proud of Olney and Round House together winning best musical for In the Heights because that was a two-year partnership that really showed off the best of Montgomery County and was a big collaboration between our two companies.”

Imagination Stage was awarded for an outstanding production for young audiences with Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure. Kathryn Chase Bryer won for outstanding direction in a musical for that show.

Janet Stanford, Imagination Stage's artistic director, said it was a "tremendous thrill" to be recognized. Bryer, the theater's associate artistic director, was the first to win the award for a play produced for young audiences in 20 years, she said.

"It was a fabulous night for theater for young audiences," Stanford said. "It makes the point that an award … for best new play can go to a script written for young people."

For the Adventure Theatre staging of Ella Enchanted, Karen Zacarias and Deborah Wicks La Puma were awarded for outstanding original play or musical adaptation.

“We’re so proud of our original work that we get to produce, and Ella Enchanted exemplifies all that’s wonderful about creating new work for young audiences,” Leon Seemann, managing director at Adventure Theatre, said Tuesday. “This is something we specifically invest in, producing new works, so it was wonderful to get recognized for that.”

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