Cedric Neal wins Helen Hayes Award

Liz Cedric Terry

We miss Cedric Neal in Dallas, but we’re also glad he’s met with such success. The former member of Dallas Theater Center‘s resident acting company (pictured above with fellow company member Liz Mikel and WaterTower artistic director Terry Martin) first went on to a role on Broadway in Porgy and Bess (he even went on a few times as Sportin’ Life, a role he understudied) and has continued to work. And it’s paid off.

Last week, Neal won a Helen Hayes Award, presented for excellence in theater in the Washington, D.C., area. He won best featured actor in a musical for his role in the Signature Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls, beating such competition as former Tony Award nominee Robert Cuccioli who appeared in 1776. Congrats, Cedric!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A Dallas diva reunion

In the last year, two of Dallas’ reigning divas — Liz Mikel and Cedric Neal — left the stages of North Texas to conquer Broadway: Mikel in a star-making role in Lysistrata Jones (which, unfortunately, closed too soon) and Neal in the ensemble of the hit revival of Porgy & Bess (you could even see him on the Tony Awards). The two former members of the Dallas Theater Center resident acting company were finally back together in a North Texas theater this week… just not onstage. They attended WaterTower Theatre’s opening night of Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Even though Mikel is currently in Joseph … Dreamcoat, it was still fun seeing them back together.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas connections to the 2012 Tony noms

The 2012 Tony Award nominations came out this morning, with the new musical Once (based on the Irish film) getting the most nominations (11). But actually a couple of other productions are even more interesting to Dallas audiences.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which features Dallas actor Cedric Neal, received 10 noms, including best revival of a musical. And Lysistrata Jones, which began as a world premiere at the Dallas Theater Center (under the name Give It Up) received a nom for best book of a musical for Douglas Carter Beane. He’ll go up against fellow gay writer Joe DiPietro for Nice Work If You Can Get It. Unfortunately, Liz Mikel, who wowed Dallas and New York audiences, was not singled out for her performance.

This is the Tonys, so gay nominees abound. The revival of Sondheim’s Follies scored a number of nominations (including, for my money, likely winner Jan Maxwell). Gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz got a nod for best play for Other Desert Cities. Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (with a gay twist) was nominated for best revival of a play as well as best actor James Earl Jones; he’ll face against John Lithgow, who was nominated for another gay play, The Columnist (which also features former Dallasite Brian J. Smith as Lithgow’s  six-pack-ab’d trick). Lesbian actress Cynthia Nixon is up for her performance in Wit.

Jeff Calhoun, whom I interviewed last year, is nominated for best director of a musical for Newsies. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark got only two design nominations, though ironically, the new movie Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, was nominated for best featured actor in a play for Death of a Salesman.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones