Drama Prom

I stole that title from Lucky Spinster‘s blog because it’s such a perfect nickname for the annual Helen Hayes Awards. It’s so nice to see all the people you’ve looked at through the year in various stages of filthiness and undress, looking so lovely on the big night. We really do clean up pretty good.

Since I was nominated for Pacific Overtures this year, John and I got free tickets to the event and all its associated festivities. Since I had no illusions about winning, I was also free to enjoy myself without the associated nerves. My first order of business was to come up with an outfit; my annual game is to see if I can get away with spending less than fifty bucks on my ensemble. As an homage to Pacific Overtures, I thought it would be fun to wear a kimono, and I found a great tomesode for auction on eBay (a tomesode is the formal kimono worn by married women; it’s black with a design around the bottom hem).

After spirited bidding, it was mine for under $50, shipping and all. I went about ten bucks over budget when I bought earrings to complete the ensemble, but overall I thought the look was pretty effective. That’s me at the left, looking smug with the handsomest man in the room.

John and I met up with good buddies Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner at the pre-Awards reception; we were fortunate enough to snag a table at which to scarf down the buffet offerings (I liked the mini spanakopita the best). I also had two glasses of red wine, which gave me a nice little red-wine headache during the ceremony.
We were giving poor Steve a hard time about his eating habits (Mr. Meat and Potatoes) and then I wanted to take his picture with Matt when he had his mouth full. He was chewing manfully while we mocked him and took this photo, where he looks like he’s about to burst into flames, like Johnny Storm. Flame ON!

Later, he’d recovered enough to take a very fine photo with the second handsomest man in the room.

We were also joined by David Jackson and his lovely wife. I haven’t seen David for what seems like eons, and was startled to find that they live no more than a couple miles from our house. Small world. J. Fred Shiffman‘s lovely self dropped by, followed by Chris Bloch, Harry Winter, Karma Camp, Kristi Ambrosetti, Chan McQuay and Joe Calarco (and other folks who I can’t remember and who will probably give me a hard time for forgetting them). When you’ve got a table at the pre-Awards dinner, EVERYBODY comes over, usually to see if there’s a spare chair.

Then it was off to the festivities. I had predicted (hoped) that Urinetown would sweep, and we got off to a good start when Joe Calarco picked up one of the first awards for Outstanding Direction of a Musical. Things just got better from there. The only thing I was really nervous about was that I had written spoof lyrics to “You Gotta Have Heart” for a number about the five Outstanding Musicals nominees, and when the number began my heart was racing with fear. WHAT IF IT WASN’T FUNNY??? Fortunately, Brad Oscar can make an annual report funny, and the number went over well. “Feel my pulse,” I whispered to John when it was over, sinking weakly back into my seat.

I will admit to a slight frisson when they announced a tie in my category, but as I had pointed out to John earlier, the nominees in the category were “beautiful young woman, beautiful young woman, beautiful young woman, beautiful young woman, middle-aged woman dressed like a Japanese man.” It wasn’t going to happen, and it didn’t. Fortunately, Urinetown continued its sweep, and I was very happy.

Then it was back to the J.W. Marriott for the post-ceremony festivities. I was parched and drank water, Diet Soda and a cup of tea before having one beer for the road.
This is me, my beer and the spectacular Jenna Sokolowski, who would have been glowing even if she hadn’t won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Musical for her performance in Urinetown. Another entry for the Small World books: John and Jenna’s dad work together. One of the really nice themes of the evening was how many of the winners had brought their parents along; it took me back to 1992, the year I won for Signature’s first Sweeney Todd, when my parents were also in the house.

I was in major pain from my high heels by then, so after huggies and kissies with Linda Levy Grossman, who put on a FABULOUS event, John and I retrieved our car from the Marriott garage (twenty-eight dollars – ruinous) and went home. As we crawled into bed and turned off the light, John whispered to me that I looked beautiful – and that’s award enough for me.


  1. Tony Westbrook

    You DO look beautiful Donna! Simply beautiful!And you’re a winner in my book for both PO and UTown.That photo of you and John is a keeper worth framing!And I love that you rewrote the lyrics and that Brad made them soar! That was noted in the Post article.Kudos and congrats! Well deserved all around.

  2. StephenGregorySmith

    HAHAH!Flame on indeed…If I didn’t think that hideous images of myself were hysterical, I would smack your touchey…however, I laughed outloud at the pic. It was really good roast beef, too.It was a lovely evening with you and John, and thanks so much for that. Truly a good time.

  3. Sammy's Jay

    Just want to 2nd tony w., you really look great. After those photos of SGS he’ll need a publicist to fix the damage. Thanks for sharing what looks like a great evening.

  4. Glen

    You and the tomesode both looked great! And you were nothing short of brilliant in both Pacific and Urinetown chic.It WAS a terrific show and a fun evening — and remember, it’s all about being NOMINATED.Yes, the spanakopita were great, but the truly crowning touch was all that matzah in the breadbasket — to enjoy with the pasta, of course.Congrats, Donna.

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