Theatre artists and productions nominated for The 24th Annual Helen Hayes Awards were announced this week at a press conference, hosted by The National Theatre in its Helen Hayes Gallery.

Before announcing the nominees, Helen Hayes Awards President and CEO Linda Levy Grossman reported that during the Awards judging cycle, from January 1 – December 31, 2007, 189 productions met the eligibility requirements for The Helen Hayes Awards. From these, 149 nominated artists and productions were named in 24 categories. Grossman says, “This is the greatest number of eligible work in many years, resulting in the greatest number of nominees ever.”

During this judging cycle, a total of 1,829 acting performances alone were balloted among thousands of theatre professionals whose work on and behind the stage distinguished this most remarkable year and the prime reason that the Washington theatre community is the second most prolific theatre town in the country.

Victor Shargai, chairman of The Helen Hayes Awards Board of Directors, welcomed the crowd of almost 200 theatre makers and patrons to the press conference. He stated, “The Helen Hayes Awards serves as a proud champion of Washington theatre, thoroughly committed to get more people into more seats at more venues throughout the region.” Following Shargai’s remarks, Linda Levy Grossman announced the nominees.

The Helen Hayes Awards have been a critical tool for promoting Washington area professional theatres for almost 25 years. The Awards serve as a valued credential for theatres just getting started, for those already established, and, of course, for individual theatre artists. As a tangible recognition for an intangible art form, a Helen Hayes Award nomination conveys their high level of achievement to audiences and to the national theatre community. By shining a spotlight on certain work, the theatre community as a whole is illuminated.

Work that is nominated—and work that ultimately receives Awards is not “best” or “better” in any way. Such distinctions, of course, simply aren’t possible. But all nominated work does have something in common—it is all outstanding.

A panel of 63 individuals who comprised the 2007 judging pool determined the nominees. Helen Hayes Awards judges are a diverse and proportional mix of arts professionals, academics, journalists, and very experienced lifelong theatregoers.

One of our country’s most prestigious cultural events, The Helen Hayes Awards honors excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington metropolitan area. On April 28, the recipients for the 2008 Awards will be named during a rousing celebration at the historic Warner Theatre, followed by the Ovation Gala, Washington’s largest cast party, at the JW Marriott.

The creative team for this year’s Helen Hayes Awards show on April 28 is comprised of a crew of extraordinary theatre artists in their own right: The show will be directed by Jerry Whiddon, written by Renee Calarco, and designed and co-produced by Daniel MacLean Wagner. Glenn Pearson will serve as musical director in collaboration with George Fulginiti-Shakar. Linda Levy Grossman is co-producing the show with Wagner.