Gallaudet alumna wins Helen Hayes Award for theater performance

April 08, 2015

Author: Nathan Ramsier

The limelight shined brightly on Gallaudet's Theatre and Dance program as Miranda Medugno, '14, won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical, Helen category, for her role as Helen Keller in Visible Language. Medugno is the first Gallaudet alumnus ever to win the award. Fellow alumnus Joe Caverly, '11, was nominated in the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play, Hayes category, for his role as Billy in Tribes.

Since 1985, the Helen Hayes Awards has been one of the country's most prestigious honors celebrating outstanding achievement in over 90 professional theaters throughout the Washington, D.C. area. The awards, named for the legendary First Lady of the American Theatre, are bestowed on those artists and companies that best exhibit that excellence found on all stages throughout the metropolitan area.

This year marked a new chapter in the awards as TheatreWashington, the administering organization, adopted a two category approach. The Helen Group is designated for non-equity productions which tend to be smaller and have less unionized actors while the Hayes Group consists of equity productions, which are larger and employ more unionized actors.

Medugno has a B.A. in Theatre Arts and is currently a graduate student in Gallaudet's Master of Arts program in Sign Language Education. Over the past five years at this university, she played Ophelia in Hamlet (2012), as well as the title roles in Alice in Wonderland (2013), and Lysistrata (2013). Miranda interned twice with Faction of Fools, a Washington, D.C.-based Commedia dell'Arte theater company in its fourth year of residency at Gallaudet, cast as a servants in The Mandrake (2011), and as Lavinia in Titus Andronicus (2014). 

Caverly has a life-long affinity for acting. In high school, he decided that he wanted to pursue acting professionally and after enrolling in Gallaudet, he dove into theater headfirst.  His work ethic and dedication to his craft resulted in an impressive list of accomplishments for Caverly leading up to his nomination. In the fall of 2012, he directed the Theatre Art Department's production of Noises Off which earned an entry in the American College Theatre Festival.  Caverly also earned an award in the World Deaf Cinema Festival that year for his performance and co-direction of the short independent film, Red Line.

Caverly will also be co-directing the Department of Theatre and Dance's upcoming April production of Dr. Faustus. The show will feature the work of another 2015 Helen Hayes award nominee, Jason Arnold, a lighting designer who was nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design, Hayes category, for his work on Imagination Stage's The BFG

Theatre and Dance program director Ethan Sinnott was a member of a production team which received a Helen Hayes award nomination this year. He was the set designer for Imagination Stage's Cinderella: The Remix, nominated for Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences.

Nomination aside, Sinnott gave a great deal of praise to Miranda and Joe. "They are the first deaf actors to score Helen Hayes nominations since Mary Vreeland for her role as Katrina in the Shakespeare Theatre's Mother Courage and Her Children in 1994.  It's been 21 years, and I take enormous satisfaction in knowing that two of our own snapped the drought."