Everyone loves a little camp. That may be the big takeaway from last night’s Helen Hayes Awards — the 28th annual celebration of stand-outs in local theater — at the Warner Theatre. The big winner was Signature Theatre’s “Hairspray,” the feel-good ‘60s-set musical about a chubby Baltimore girl’s bid for fame through a televised dance show. The show took home five wins, including outstanding resident musical and a lead actress nod for Carolyn Cole, who played starry-eyed Tracy Turnblad.
Although neither “Hairspray” nor any of the honored shows are still on the boards, you can still get a taste of some winners’ work at local theaters.
Those who enjoyed the outlandish antics of Signature’s “Hairspray” are probably already booking tickets for the theater’s upcoming production of “Xanadu,” opening on May 8. The comedic musical is based on the 1980s cult classic film starring Olivia Newton-John as a Greek muse who travels to California to help a foundering chalk artist craft his magnum opus — a disco music-infused roller rink.
Relative newcomer the Hub Theatre doesn’t shy away from eccentric plotlines, and the group snagged the award for outstanding new play with Marc Acito’s “Birds of a Feather.” Those interested in seeing what the Northern Virginia-based group is up to can head to Fairfax for “John and Beatrice,” a modern fairy tale that critic Celia Wren said “demonstrates again that the Hub is willing to tackle offbeat fare.”
Another frequent winner was Synetic Theater, the movement-based company behind a winning series of silent Shakespeare adaptations, including “King Lear,” which scored four awards. While the group just wrapped up a well-received take on “The Taming of the Shrew,” theater-goers can catch the troupe’s next show (and a departure from the Shakespeare routine), “Home of the Soldier.” Preview performances begin May 30.
The littlest theater fans may be jumping for joy over a couple wins for Adventure Theatre, including nods to “Charlotte’s Web” (outstanding production for young audiences) and director Michael Barone for “A Year With Frog & Toad” (outstanding director for a resident musical). The theater’s next production “Five Little Monkeys” hits the stage Friday.
Writer-director Aaron Posner has kept busy since moving to Washington, and it has paid off — he took home the award for outstanding director of a resident play for his spirited take on “Cyrano” at the Folger. He returns to the house of Shakespeare on May 1 with another quality cast for “Taming of the Shrew.”
Actor Ted van Griethuysen collected an award for a supporting role in a resident play for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Fans of his acting can catch him now on the same stage in Eugene O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude.” The lead actor prize for a resident play went to another dependably excellent professional, Mitchell Hebert, for “After the Fall.” Hebert will take a more behind-the-scenes approach in his next venture; he’ll be directing Tony Kushner’s “The Illusion” for Forum Theatre, starting May 24.
Costume designer Kendra Rai is a mainstay at Constellation Theatre. The splashy wardrobes she crafted for “The Ramayana” and “The Green Bird” earned her this year’s award for costume design. Her work will be on display in another fantastical realm when Constellation stages Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of “Metamorphoses,”opening in previews on May 2.
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