Lorton-based theater production racks up award nominations


Credit: Workhouse Arts Center

The Workhouse Arts Center’s 2023 production of “Urinetown” picked up five nominations for the 40th Helen Hayes Awards — the Washington, D.C. area theater community’s equivalent of the Tony Awards. The nominations were announced by Theatre Washington at a Jan. 22 gathering at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C.

“Urinetown,” a musical satire which ran from March to June of last year at the Workhouse Arts Center’s W-3 Theatre, garnered award nominations in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Ensemble
  • Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical – Amanda Mason
  • Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical – Ashton Schaffer
  • Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical – Mel Gumina
  • Outstanding Musical Direction – Paige Austin Rammelkamp

According to a Workhouse news release, a panel of 49 judges reviewed a total of 44 musicals, 107 plays and 36 world premieres, selecting award nominees in 41 categories. With its five award nominations, the Workhouse has just one fewer nomination this year than Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Last year, the Workhouse received one Helen Hayes Award nomination for Jessica Barraclough’s leading role in the 2022 production of “Xanadu.”

“I believe that the success of our production of 'Urinetown' was the result of a great creative team and dedicated ensemble of performers,” said Joseph Wallen, performing arts director at the Workhouse. “The script and music provide a solid foundation for an intriguing — and often hysterical — story to be told.”

Winners of the 2024 Helen Hayes Awards will be announced at a May 20 ceremony at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.

The Workhouse currently is holding performances of “The Who’s Tommy,” a rock opera, at the W-3 Theatre through Feb. 11. Next up is the production of a coming-of-age story, “Every Brilliant Thing,” from March 9 until April 14. 

Auditions are currently being scheduled Feb. 24-25 for the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which will begin performances in May. All roles are open and paid, according to a Workhouse spokesperson, and community members are encouraged to audition.

The Workhouse Arts Center’s performing arts scene may greatly expand in coming years as the master plan for the campus, approved in September 2023, is funded and implemented. 

Under the plan, the county will build a 400-seat professional theater in building W-12, which is located across the Quad from the McGuireWoods Gallery and adjacent to the future Bunnyman Brewing and Café. The master plan also includes the construction of an Events Center, Music and Dance Education Center, and small ampitheater, among other facilities.

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