UNCSA connections shine bright as Helen Hayes Awards nominees

Everything is better by the dozen for University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) School of Drama alumnus Colin Hovde, artistic director of Theater Alliance in Washington, D.C.  Theater Alliance received 10 nominations in the Helen Hayes Awards, D.C.’s equivalent of the Tony Awards for outstanding theatre, and Hovde was nominated twice for another production he directed for a children’s theatre.

He is among 16 UNCSA faculty, alumni and guest artists in the School of Drama and the School of Design and Production who were nominated for acting, directing, choreography and design.

Theater Alliance’s Occupied Territories, nominated for Outstanding Play and five other awards, was written by husband and wife Kelly Maxner and Mollye Maxner, both two-time graduates of UNCSA and both faculty members in the School of Drama. Kelly Maxner is director of the Drama’s high school program and summer school program. He graduated from the School of Dance in 1994 and the School of Drama in 2000. Mollye Maxner is an adjunct faculty member in Drama who graduated from UNCSA’s high school Dance program in 1993 and from the School of Drama in 2009.

They are also nominated for outstanding choreography for the play, and Mollye Maxner is nominated for outstanding director.

Occupied Territories was also nominated for Outstanding Ensemble, with Drama alumni Freddie Bennett ’06, Desmond Bing ’09, Thomas Rowell ’08 and ’12, and Cody Robinson ‘13 and ’17.  Rowell was also nominated for the James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, along with another actor in the play.

Another Theater Alliance production, Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, was also nominated for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Lighting Design and Outstanding Sound Design. Timothy Douglas, a frequent guest artist in the School of Drama, is nominated as Outstanding Director for the production.

Hovde also is nominated for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production for Young Audiences for A Year with Toad and Frog for Imagination Stage, a children’s theatre organization in Bethesda, Md. The play also was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble.

No Rules Theatre, the now-closed company based in Winston-Salem and Washington, D.C., received two nominations for its production In Love and Warcraft. Joshua Morgan ’09 was nominated for Outstanding Director, and the play was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble. 

Yerma, lighting design by Christopher Annas-Lee

Christopher Annas-Lee is lighting designer for "Yerma" with GALA Hispanic Theatre.

Other UNCSA alumni with nominations include:

Christopher Annas-Lee, D&P ‘14, is nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design for Yerma with GALA Hispanic Theatre.

Christopher Baine, D&P ‘06, is nominated for Outstanding Sound Design for When She Had Wings for Imagination Stage.

Brian Gillick, D&P ’14, is nominated for Outstanding Set Design for Very Still & Hard to See for Rorscharch Theatre.

Jon Hudson Odom, Drama ’08, is nominated for the James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for Passion Play for Forum Theatre.

Shirley Serotsky, Drama ’09, is associate artistic director for Theater J, which is nominated for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Queens Girl in the World.

Wesley Taylor, Drama ‘08, is among the cast nominated as Outstanding Ensemble for Signature Theatre’s Cabaret.

Gaye Taylor Upchurch, Drama ‘05, is nominated for Outstanding Director for Animal for Studio Theatre.

The Helen Hayes Awards will be presented May 23.

by Lauren Whitaker

February 18, 2016