We sometimes tease the Helen Hayes Awards for nominating D.C.-area stage turns by movie-famous actors. After all, it seems implausible that stars like Cate Blanchett or Hugo Weaving-nominated for their roles in the Kennedy Center’s production of Uncle Vanya last summer-would actually collect a regional theater award in person. (Laurence Fishburne won in 2011, but in absentia.)
But a lifetime achievement award will do the trick, with Kevin Spacey due to appear at the April 23 awards ceremony to receive the Helen Hayes Tribute. Spacey, 52, in addition to his film work, is also the artistic director of the Old Vic in London and has collected several other big theater prizes including a Tony and Drama Desk Award as well as several British awards.
Though most of Spacey’s stage work has been in New York or London, he is a veteran of the Kennedy Center. He played the depressive playwright Konstantin Treplev in a 1985 production of Chekhov’s The Seagull, a role in which a New York Times critic wrote called him “almost sinister in his surliness.”
Spacey, an Academy Award-winner for roles in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, is also being recognized for his role as an advocate for increased federal funding of the arts. Last year, he appeared before Congress to urge for more funding of the National Endowment of the Arts.
And, he’s actually going to show up, says Linda Levy, the president of TheatreWashington, which oversees the Helen Hayes Awards. “He WILL be there!” she writes in an email.
Press release from TheatreWashington:
Award Winning Actor and Arts Advocate Kevin Spacey
to Receive Helen Hayes Tribute
Washington, DC – Oscar and Tony Award winning actor and arts advocate Kevin Spacey will receive the prestigious Helen Hayes Tribute at the 28th Helen Hayes Awards ceremony on Monday, April 23, 2012.
The Helen Hayes Tribute, sponsored by Jaylee Mead, annually recognizes theatre artists who exemplify excellence and great commitment to their craft.
For 28 years, the Helen Hayes Awards, a program of theatreWashington, has recognized excellence in Washington theatre. theatreWashington is the only organization that promotes, supports, and represents Washington area theatres, artists, and diverse audiences of all ages.
“Kevin Spacey is a master performer,” said Victor Shargai, Chairman of the theatreWashington Board of Directors. “But, even more, he is a man who understands that theatre is a transforming experience.”
“Washington is one of the largest and most successful theatre towns in the nation,” said Linda Levy, President and CEO of theatreWashington. “As an artist and advocate for the arts, Kevin Spacey makes us realize the tragedy we would face if there were no theatre.”
In a career that spans some thirty years on both stage and screen, Spacey has earned the reputation as one of the hardest working and respected actors of his generation. He has worked as a director, screenwriter, producer, and singer and is Artistic Director at the Old Vic, one of the oldest theaters in London. He is the winner of two Oscars, a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award as well as the London Critics Circle, London Evening Standard and Laurence Olivier Theatre award for best Actor. He also has a star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Imagination, innovation and uncompromising commitment are the hallmarks of the careers of previous Tribute recipients. Past honorees have included Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach, Derek Jacobi, James Earl Jones, Mary Martin, Angela Lansbury, Jason Robards, Stephen Sondheim, Chita Rivera, Lynn Redgrave, August Wilson and, of course, Helen Hayes.
With nearly 80 professional theatre companies, Greater Washington is second only to New York for the number of productions produced each year. The 2012 Helen Hayes Awards will celebrate Washington’s vibrant theatre scene. During the 2011 season, 53 theatres produced 192 productions that met eligibility requirements in the January 1 – December 31 judging cycle. From these shows, 153 artists, ensembles and productions from 26 theatres were nominated for the Helen Hayes Awards.
theatreWashington will announce awards at the 28th Helen Hayes Awards ceremony at the Warner Theatre, immediately followed by the Ovation Gala at the JW Marriott Hotel on April 23, 2012.