Anthony Warlow in the recent Australian production of Fiddler on the Roof (Photo by Jeff Busby)

At a ceremony in Washington DC this week, it was announced that Australia’s leading musical theatre performer Anthony Warlow has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Helen Hayes Award for Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in Man of La Mancha for the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

The Helen Hayes Awards is an annual presentation of awards to recognize excellence in professional theatre in the Washington, DC area. The awards are named in tribute to Helen Hayes, known as the “First Lady of American theatre’. They are presented by Theatre Washington (formerly known as the Helen Hayes Awards organization), which is the unified voice of Washington theatre since the 1980s, and 40 judges selected the nominees and recipients.

In its review of the production, The Washington Post said, “The charismatic Warlow leads the charge in one of those cases when a role just flat-out fits. Warlow’s silky baritone unwinds in long, confident phrases that shower the chivalric “Dulcinea” with tender romanticism and makes “The Impossible Dream” rewardingly heroic. He also plainly relishes playing the whimsical Cervantes of writer Dale Wasserman’s imagination”. Theatremania claimed, “Warlow is excellent as Cervantes and Don Quixote, both in the way his rich baritone does justice to the musical’s most familiar numbers and in his ability to transform himself quickly from Cervantes to Quixana to Quixote”, while TheatreBloom said, “It is Warlow’s transformation and his charismatic leadership that makes this tale of impossible hope amid stark misery so very compelling in the role that made Richard Kiley a star in 1965. With a few strokes of greasepaint, addition of a beard and wig, and all the theatrical craftsmanship of extraordinary talent, he becomes Don Quixote in every conceivable way.”