Signature Theatre’s SHE LOVES ME Receives 9 Helen Hayes Award Nominations including Acting Nods for Ali Ewoldt, Maria Rizzo, Bobby Smith, the Ensemble, in addition to Outstanding Production in a Musical, Direction, Choreography, Costume Design, and Set Design

Congratulations to the Company of Signature Theatre’s production of She Loves Me, which has been nominated for 9 Helen Hayes Awards including Outstanding Production in a Musical, Outstanding Direction in a Musical for Matthew Gardiner, Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical for Ali Ewoldt, Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical for Maria Rizzo and Bobby Smith, Outstanding Choreography in a Musical for Kelly Crandall D’Amboise, Outstanding Costume Design for Alejo Vietti, Outstanding Set Design for Lee Savage and Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical. I loved everything about this jewel box of a production and I am so glad that Jason Ma and I got to experience it in person.

The 37th Helen Hayes Awards will be presented on Monday, May 22 at an event at the Anthem, 901 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC 20024.  This will be the first in-person Helen Hayes Awards ceremony since 2019. The Awards for productions in the calendar year 2019 were presented virtually in 2020 and productions were not adjudicated during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 or 2021. Click here for a list of all the nominees.

She Loves Me by Joe Masteroff (book), Jerry Bock (music), and Sheldon Harnick(lyrics), based on a play by Miklos Laszlo, stars Ali Ewoldt as Amalia and Deven Kolluri as Georg. The cast also includes Emmanuel Elliot Key (Arts Centric’s La Cage aux Folles, Pittsburgh Alumni Theater Company’s Passing Strange) as Arpad Laszlo, Bobby Smith (Signature’s Assassins, Grand Hotel) as Ladislav Sipos, Maria Rizzo (Signature’s A Chorus Line, Crazy for You) as Ilona Ritter, Vincent Kempski (Signature’s RENT, Assassins) as Steven Kodaly, Lawrence Redmond (Signature’s Passion, Titanic) as Mr. Maraczek and David Schlumpf (Olney Theatre’s Elf, Grease, the Musical National Tour) as the Head Waiter. Ensemble members are Andre Hinds (Signature’s After Midnight, The Scottsboro Boys), Christopher Mueller (Signature’s Simply Sondheim, Assassins), Daniel Powers (Signature’s A Chorus Line, Billy Elliot), Olivia Ashley Reed (Signature’s Freaky Friday, Mamma Mia! National Tour), Katherine Riddle (Shakespeare Theatre’s The Secret Garden, Glimmerglass’s Sweeney Todd) and Jillian Wessel (Signature’s A Chorus Line, Keegan Theatre’s Chicago). Drake Leach, Sarah Anne Sillers and Dylan Toms are swings.

In the romantic comedy musical She Loves Me, two salesclerks working in a charming 1930s European perfumery spar endlessly, each saving their sweetest words for an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknownst to them, however, their “dear friend” happens to be each other in a joyful, transcendent, and perfectly crafted escapade featuring the treasured songs “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “A Trip to the Library” and the irrepressible title song. Kelly Crandall d’Amboise (Signature’s Grand Hotel, Light Years) is the choreographer, and Jon Kalbfleisch (Assassins, Simply Sondheim) is the Music Director and Conductor.

Joining Matthew Gardiner, Kelly Crandall d’Amboise and Jon Kalbfleisch on the creative team are Lee Savage (Signature’s Passion, Broadway’s The Lightning Thief) Scenic Design, Alejo Vietti (Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Allegiance) Costume Design, Adam Honoré (Signature’s RENT, Broadway’s Chicken and Biscuits) Lighting Design, Ryan Hickey (Signature’s RENT, After Midnight) Sound Design, and Anne Nesmith (Signature’s A Little Night Music, West Side Story) Wig Design. Chelsea Pace is Signature’s Resident Intimacy Consultant. Signature Casting is by Kelly Crandall D’Amboise and Jorge Acevedo. New York Casting Agent is Stewart/Whitley. Kerry Epstein is the Production Stage Manager, Julia Singer is the Assistant Stage Manager, Katie Moshier is the Production Assistant, Clancey Yovanovich is the Assistant Director, Angie Benson is the Associate Music Director, Alexander Greenberg is the Keyboard Programmer.

Recognizing work from 131 eligible productions presented in the 2022 calendar year, nominations were made in 41 categories and grouped in “Helen” or “Hayes” cohorts, depending on the number of Equity members involved in the production. Nominations are the result of 40 carefully vetted judges considering 2,146 individual pieces of work, such as design, direction, choreography, performances, and more. Productions under consideration in 2022 included 39 musicals, 97 plays, and 38 world premieres.

Signature Theatre and GALA Hispanic Theatre saw the most number of nominations for a theatre, with 30 and 20 respectively. The most nominated productions include: ON YOUR FEET! La historia de Emilio y Gloria Estefan ¡EN ESPAÑOL! at GALA Hispanic Theatre (with 15), The Color Purple at Signature Theatre (with 13), John Proctor is the Villain at Studio Theatre (with 11), and tick, tick…BOOM! at Monumental Theatre Co (with 11).

The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company is recognized each year by the Emerging Theatre Committee of Theatre Washington. This year’s recipients are Ex-Pats Theatre and Prologue Theatre. Qualifying theatres must produce at least one show per year, with a minimum of nine performances each, for two consecutive years.

Bonnie Nelson Schwartz will receive the 2023 Helen Hayes Tribute Award. Nelson Schwartz is the founder and original producer of the Helen Hayes Awards and is a Broadway and television producer with more than 100 plays, films, television programs and concerts in Washington, DC, New York and London to her credit. Her project Traveling While Black was nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. Schwartz recently produced the Global Climate Uprising Festival for the Glasgow Climate Summit in Scotland.

Named for actor Helen Hayes – a Washington native and legendary First Lady of the American Theatre – the Helen Hayes Awards has honored excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington region for more than three decades.

Lia Chang, Deven Kolluri and Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Jason Ma
Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, activist, documentarian and an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia is also the host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS WITH LIA CHANG, an Arts and Entertainment and Lifestyle program that airs on Sundays at 6:30pm on FIOS 34, RCN 83, Spectrum 56/1996 and MNN2.

Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, arts organizations, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations.

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