Jan. 12, 2016

Catholic University senior John Sygar, who studies in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, was among the talented local performers to receive a nomination this week for the 2016 Helen Hayes Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in plays and musicals in more than 80 professional theatres in the D.C. area. Sygar, who is originally from Bowie, Md., was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role in Garfield: the Musical with Cattitude at Adventure Theatre Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo, Md.Music School Dean Grayson Wagstaff said he was "thrilled" to hear about Sygar's nomination. Because the Helen Hayes Awards honor professional theatre productions throughout the entire Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, it is uncommon for a student to be recognized. "Such recognition of an undergraduate student's artistic achievement is remarkable in light of the high level of theatrical companies in our region," Dean Wagstaff said. "This is a credit to our amazing professors in theatre headed by Tom Pedersen, with Rachelle Fleming, Jay Brock and Bryan Lilley as well as all the voice instructors including Marilyn Moore, Arianna Zukermann, Fleta Hylton, Warren Freeman, and many others. They do extraordinary work with our students."Sygar was not the only member of the Catholic University community to receive a nomination for this year's awards.

Faculty member Eleanor Holdridge, head of the M.F.A. directing program in the Department of Drama, received a nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play for Queens Girls in the World at Theatre J in Washington, D.C. Kathryn Chase Bryer, a lecturer in the drama department, was nominated for Outstanding Director of a Musical for her role in Wiley and the Hairy Man at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Md. Music school alumni who received award nominations include Jessica Lauren Ball (B.M. 2006), for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her role in Guys and Dolls at the Olney Theatre Center in Olney, Md.; and Dane Figueroa Edidi (B.M. 2005), for Outstanding Choreography in a Play for Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea , at Theater Alliance in Washington, D.C. Several alumni from the Catholic University Department of Drama received nominations, including Ben Cunis (B.A. '06), for Outstanding Choreography in a Play in Much Ado About Nothing at Synetic Theatre in Arlington, Va.; Matthew Dewberry (M.F.A. 2009) for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for Avenue Q at Constellation Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.; and Maggie Erwin for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for Rapture, Blister, Burn , at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md. Frank DiSalvo Jr. (B.A. 2009) received two nominations for Outstanding Sound Design, for his work on It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at the Washington Stage Guild in Washington, D.C., and Very Still & Hard to See at Rorschach Theatre in Washington, D.C.Megan Reichelt (B.A. 2006) was included in the ensemble nominated for Outstanding Ensemble in a Play for Flying vs. Fights: Heroes and Monsters , at Flying V in Bethesda, Md. Bob Bartlett (M.F.A. 2011), Stephen Spotswood (M.F.A. 2009), and Annalisa Dias (M.F.A. 2015) were nominated as part of The Welders, for the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. The Helen Hayes Award is named for actress Helen Hayes, whose 80-year career earned her an Emmy, a Grammy, two Oscars, and two Tony awards. She made her final stage appearance at the University's Hartke Theatre playing Mary Tyrone in a 1971 production of Eugene O'Neil's classic Long Day's Journey into Night .

The 2016 Helen Hayes Awards winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on May 23 at a venue to be announced. For more information, visit theatrewashington.org.

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is Washington, D.C.'s only university school of music. More than 2,000 of its alumni have won a variety of awards as performers, music educators, and scholars. The Department of Drama in the School of Arts and Sciences has been the educational incubator for acclaimed playwrights, directors, and actors since 1937.