Several Gallaudet alumni were recognized at the Helen Hayes Awards ceremony on May 22 for their work on Olney Theatre Center’s production of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, featuring a mix of Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing artists. The musical was nominated for nine awards at the event, which honors achievements in theater in the Washington, D.C. region.

James “Joey” Caverly, ’11, won Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical for his portrayal of Professor Harold Hill. This was the first win and second nomination for Caverly, who plays Theo Dimas on the popular Hulu series, Only Murders in the Building.

Caverly on stage dressed with a white wig, long coat with Frank standing next to him in a dress, looking at him.
Helen Hayes Award winners Caverly and Frank shared the stage when they were both students at Gallaudet in the 2011 Theatre Arts production of L’Abbe de L’Epee: A Satire.

Sandra Mae Frank, ’13, and her co-director, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma artistic director Michael Baron, won for Outstanding Direction in a Musical. This was her first nomination. And the cast — which included Amelia Hensley, ’13; Andrew Morrill, ’16; Jane Enabore, ’17; and Anjel Pinero, ’22 — won Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical.

These wins are the latest sign that mainstream theater is seeking to achieve more equitable representation on and off stage and dismantling barriers to Deaf artists, says Professor Ethan Sinnott, director of Gallaudet’s Theatre and Dance Program. “For Frank to win Best Director, that is the first time a Deaf artist has won a Helen Hayes Award for a category totally unrelated to acting,” he notes.

The last Gallaudet graduate to win a Helen Hayes Award — and the first to do so — was Miranda Medugno-Kuehne, ’14 & G-‘15, in 2015. So this year’s ceremony represents progress. “But our work continues,” adds Sinnott, who designed the set for The Music Man. Gallaudet’s master electrician Norah Matthews, ’11, worked on the production as well.

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