The Helen Hayes Awards Announced the Official Roll-Out of theatreWashington

Alli Houseworth


(Washington, DC) – The Helen Hayes Awards is proud to announce the formation of theatreWashington—a new chapter in life of the 27 year-old organization. Building on nearly three decades of credibility, commitment, and the service that was brought to Washington area theatres by The Helen Hayes Awards, theatreWashington will continue to promote, represent, and support Washington area theatres, artists, and audiences of all ages.

In addition to a new name, this transition offers new governance and staffing structures and new programming, the centerpiece of which is an interactive new website that includes exclusive content and a user-generated Find a Show function designed to streamline the theatre decision-making process.

“It is wonderful to finally do the things we have envisioned for so long,” said theatreWashington President & CEO Linda Levy Grossman. “So many partners have worked tirelessly for more than two years to bring theatreWashington to fruition. We are fortified with a great team so the combination of our expanded capacity along with the collaboration and involvement of our Washington theatres, makes for endless possibilities.”

“Washington is unique among theatre towns,” says Victor Shargai, President of the theatreWashington Board of Directors, “It is where an extraordinarily diverse body of theatrical work is happening—classical, contemporary, edgy—we’ve got it all. This theatre community's creativity and originality is second to none. The core of our mission is to get people to realize those theatrical jewels that are the heart of our region. Our theatre companies have been major forces in this evolution and their response has been inspirational.”

Founded in 1984, the Washington Theatre Awards Society recognized and encouraged excellence in professional theatre in the Washington area through the presentation of the Helen Hayes Awards. At the time, there were only ten producing theatres in Washington. Now, nearly 30 years later there are upwards of 80 professional theatres in the region—the growth of which has been driven by the programs of The Helen Hayes Awards, including the organization’s advocacy efforts, audience-building and education programs, and the annual Helen Hayes Awards program. theatreWashington will continue this work more robustly with a new name that better reflects the breadth and geographic scope of the organization’s realigned activities.


theatreWashington’s unique new website will roll out in three phases. Phase One is currently being tested by members of the Washington area theatre community and will soon go live. Phases Two and Three will go live before the end of the year.

Phase One of will be highlighted by a Find a Show function unlike any other. Its totally unique search capability allows visitors to not only see the full spectrum of productions playing in area theatres, but to use a specially-designed filtering system to select productions by different criteria such as genre, age appropriateness, prices range, and more.

Additionally, Phase One will offer: unique content about Washington area theatres, artists, and audiences in the form of profiles on theatre professionals, essays, ten questions for theatre professionals, ten questions for audience members, and features on the theatergoing experience to help audiences overcome perceived barriers to attending the theatre; user generated reviews; interactive professional forums; and image galleries of currently running productions. Unique content and interactive features will continue to be developed in Phases Two and Three including a searchable database of every actor who has performed on a DC stage in the past two decades. was designed by Unconformity, LLC, an integrated design and marketing firm based in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

About the theatreWashington Team

theatreWashington is structured into five integrated departments, each managed by a senior professional to support the current transition and future developments, working directly with President & CEO Linda Levy Grossman. Theatre Services, Communications and Audience Development,, Operations, and Development comprise the new organizational composition. The departments will be lead by three new managers and one veteran HHA team member:

Alli Houseworth (Director of Communications & Audience Development) comes to theatreWashington after working as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She is the founder of the NYC-based Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS Patron Service Program, and holds an MFA in Producing and Theatre Management from Columbia University—where she currently serves as an Assistant Adjunct Professor and teaches Audience Engagement: In Line and Online to theatre producers. A Washington area-native, Alli was named one of Broadway World’s “Top 100 Theatre Tweeters You Must Follow,” and often speaks at conferences and convening’s about social media and how it can be implemented into an organization’s culture.

Manny Strauss (Special Advisor to the President and Managing Editor of has been a resident of the Washington area since 1988. From 2003-2007 he co-published Washington Theater Review with Betsy Karmin. Manny is currently the President of the Board of Directors for The Inkwell and previously served as a Trustee at Round House Theatre, a member of Theater J’s Council, and a member of the Board of Act Two Performing Arts (now Act Two @ Levine). In addition to his theatre experience, Manny has been a securities lawyer for more than twenty five years, having practiced with global law firms, in large public companies, and at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Brad Watkins (Director of Theatre Services) graduated from University of Maryland and toured with The Catholic University National Players. Brad became Associate Producer for Harlequin Dinner Theatre, helped create the internationally touring Troika Entertainment, freelanced as a marketing and production consultant, and helped launch Phoenix Entertainment. Until recently, Brad was Producing Director at Olney Theatre Center. Caris’ Peace, his collaboration exploring an actress’ journey following brain injury, played at the Flea Theatre, NYC and is currently the subject of a documentary debuting this fall. Brad is a member of Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers and former judge for The Helen Hayes Awards.

Allison Dreskin (Operations Manager) has been part of the Helen Hayes Awards team since 2005 and continues in this new leadership capacity. She has served the organization as Administrative Manager, Box Office Manager, Education Manager, Auction Manager, and Senior Program Manager. A communications graduate from the University of Maryland, she has considerable experience in systems management that will guide the new theatreWashington infrastructure. When not managing internal operations, Allie is the lead vocalist of Cover Me Badd, a popular Baltimore-based band.

A Development Director will be hired shortly. For a complete list of theatreWashington staff, please visit

About theatreWashington Governance

theatreWashington will be governed by a 25 member Board of Directors led by Chairman Victor Shargai, (President, Victor Shargai and Associates); Vice Chairman Betsy Karmin (Partner, DLA Piper); Secretary Robert Winter (Partner, Arnold and Porter); and Treasurer Kurt Crowl (Vice President, Connoisseur Travel. The Board of Directors will also include four members of the professional theatre community.

The Helen Hayes Awards will be overseen by a 20 member Board of Governors comprised of members of the professional theatre community and knowledgeable theatre supporters.

About the Helen Hayes Awards

The annual presentation of the Helen Hayes Awards will continue as one of five focus areas of theatreWashington. One of our country’s most prestigious cultural events, The Helen Hayes Awards annually honors excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington metropolitan area. The 2012 Helen Hayes Awards is set for April 23, 2012 at the Warner Theatre, located at 513 13th Street NW, Washington, DC.

About Theatre IN Washington

From the District to Shirlington, from Bethesda to Tyson’s Corner, from the route 29 to the route 50 corridors, the Washington metropolitan area has always been one of the most prosperous, vital and exciting communities in the country in which to live and work. An unparalleled arts destination, the Washington region is home to nearly 80 professional theatres and thousands of theatre professionals that produce work of the finest quality and fuel the economy of the nation’s capital. With the second highest per-capita number of theatre productions annually—second only to New York City—Washington, DC is an unparalleled arts destination.

About theatreWashington

Building on 27 years of credibility and service as The Helen Hayes Awards, theatreWashington is the unified voice of Washington area theatre and is the only organization dedicated solely to promoting, representing, and supporting all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community—theatres, artists, company members, and audiences of all ages.

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