UNCSA alumni and student are nominated for Washington D.C.'s Helen Hayes Awards

Alumni and current students of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts are nominated for Helen Hayes Awards, Washington, D.C.’s equivalent of Tony Awards for achievement in live theater. 

Mollye Maxner (high school Dance ’93 and Drama directing ’09), an adjunct faculty member in the School of Drama, conceived and directed “Still Life With Rocket,” which is nominated for eight Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Director and the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play.

Mollye Maxner

Mollye Maxner conceived and directed "Still Life with Rocket," which is nominated for eight Helen Hayes Awards.

She is nominated along with her husband and fellow alumnus Kelly Maxner (Dance ‘94, Drama ‘00) for an Outstanding Choreographer Award, along with cast members Kate McFalls (Dance ’17) and Devinne Cook, who will graduate from the School of Dance this year, for an Outstanding Ensemble Award.

Ben Gunderson (Drama ‘09) is nominated for the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for “Still Life With Rocket.” He also appeared in “Pajama Game” for Arena Stage, which received three nominations. 

“Still Life With Rocket,” which ran during June and July 2017 at Theatre Alliance, is also nominated for Sound Design and Lead Actress.

"Still Life with Rocket"

Alumnus Ben Gunderson, at right, is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor for "Still Life with Rocket."

The Maxners previously won a Helen Hayes Award for Choreography in 2016 for “Occupied Territories,” which Mollye Maxner wrote and directed for Theatre Alliance.

Colin Hovde (Drama ’04) is nominated for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production in a Play for “Mnemonic,” at Theatre Alliance, where he is artistic director. The play, offered in March and April 2017, is also nominated for Choreography, Lighting, Set Design and Ensemble.

With 14 nominations among the two productions, Theatre Alliance continues to build a reputation as a “stylistically adventurous troupe based in the Anacostia Playhouse” (Washington Post). Last year it was nominated for 11 awards, and in 2016 it was nominated for 10, winning the Choreography award for the Maxners.


Colin Hovde directed "Mnemonic," which is nominated for 6 Helen Hayes Awards.

Christopher Annas-Lee, a 2014 graduate of the School of Design and Production, is nominated for the third year in a row as Outstanding Lighting Designer, this year for two productions at Gala Hispanic Theatre: “Don Juan Tenorio” which ran in September and October 2017, and the U.S. premiere in Spanish of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” which was sold out in April and May 2017. Last year Annas-Lee was nominated for Gala’s “Cervantes: El Último Quijote (The Last Quixote)” and he won the category in 2016 for Gala’s production of “Yerma.”

Don Juan Tonorio

Christopher Annas-Lee is nominated for two awards for Outstanding Lighting Design, including "Don Juan Tenorio."

Joe Isenberg (Drama ‘06) is nominated for Outstanding Choreography for Arena Stage’s “Watch on the Rhine.”

Lindsay Jones (Drama ‘92) is nominated for Outstanding Sound Design for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Twelfth Night.”

Justin Schmitz (D&P ’15) is nominated for Outstanding Sound Design for “The Wild Party” for Constellation Theatre Company.

Mary-Mitchell Campbell, a 1992 graduate of the high school Music program, is musical director for “Mean Girls,” nominated for Outstanding Visiting Production at the National Theatre. Jessica Weeks (D&P ’10) is the assistant audio engineer.

UNCSA alumni also have connections to two nominees in the category Outstanding Production – Theatre for Young Audiences. Martita Slayden-Robinson (Dance ’97) is director of production for Adventure Theatre MTC, nominated for “Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook” and Harry Poster (Drama ’11) is manager of Theatre for Young Audiences at the Kennedy Center, nominated for “Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall.”

By Lauren Whitaker 

February 08, 2018