OKLAHOMA CITY — June 1, 2023 — Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron has been named a recipient of a 2023 Helen Hayes Award for his work co-directing THE MUSIC MAN last year at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland.
The award was presented last month at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The annual event recognizes outstanding achievement from more than 60 professional theatres and hundreds of theatre-makers across the Washington, D.C., region each year. Named for Helen Hayes, the legendary First Lady of the American Theatre, the awards celebrate the artists and theatre companies whose work make the nation’s Capitol a thriving, nationally recognized theatre community.
Baron and co-director Sandra Mae Frank received the Helen Hayes Award for their work in creating an American Sign Language/Spoken English production of Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN. Performances ran from June 17-July 24, 2022, at Olney. The production opened to great acclaim, including a feature on the PBS NewsHour.
Both Baron and Frank have collaborated on other musicals across the nation, including an ASL/Spoken English production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA produced by ZACH Theatre and Deaf Austin Theatre in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. Frank starred as Cinderella and Baron co-directed the production with Deaf Austin Theatre’s Artistic Director, Brian Cheslik. Frank also starred in an ASL/Spoken English version of FUN HOME at Lyric in 2018, directed by Baron. In 2016, Baron directed Lyric’s ASL-integrated production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF – starring Frank – at the Civic Center Music Hall. Baron’s version of the classic musical brought deaf and hearing actors together in a unique production and earned him the Governor’s Arts Award from the State of Oklahoma that year.
Baron came to Lyric Theatre in 2010 from Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C., where he served as associate director. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Wake Forest University in North Carolina and his master’s degree in directing at Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, R.I. In 2012, he received his first Helen Hayes Award for his direction of A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD at Washington D.C.’s Adventure Theatre. Frank, a graduate of Gallaudet University, made her Broadway debut in Deaf West Theatre’s production of SPRING AWAKENING. Additionally, Frank stars in the hit NBC-drama NEW AMSTERDAM.
The Helen Hayes Awards were established in 1984 by the Washington Awards Society, and now are presented annually by Theatre Washington.