Upbeat! Energetic! Joyful! Enthusiastic! Try to sit still through this one, Gang! If you’re not into a high-spirited, extremely talented group of young adolescents singin’ and dancin’ in this rockin’ musical comedy, come anyway! They’ll put a smile on your face! These students are truly comfortable on stage, but since this is the Cab Calloway School of the Arts, we shouldn’t be surprised. Remember their names… Someone’s going to make it to Broadway. I’m still stunned days later…
Based on the John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name, HAIRSPRAY (with a newer film version out in 2007) was performed on Broadway from 2002 to 2009 and won, in 2003, eight Tony awards, including Best Musical. HAIRSPRAY is a timeless story about teen romance, integration and acceptance of one another. Oh, and Rock ‘n Roll! How could I forget THAT? Although it takes place in the early 60’s, it’s amazing that it hasn’t lost its appeal to audiences all over.
We are in urban Baltimore, Maryland, with sweet bubbly cutie patootie Tracy Turnblad (Katelyn Fisher) who desires nothing more than to become a star and fall in love while she sees everything around her in what I call “sunshine and roses”. Talk about the glass half full. In her innocence, she also becomes the flag-bearer for integration. She belts out “Good Morning, Baltimore” in the opening number. That’s my girl! No lack of self-confidence here. In her wish to become a dancer on the local “Corny Collins Show” (think Dick Clark and “American Bandstand”), she makes it, integration, that is, happen. And doesn’t lack for support! In her corner are an adoring father, Wilbur (Adam Montgomery…loved your dance with the Mrs.)… a shy, unsophisticated mother in drag, Edna (Joe Graf…you’re better than John Travolta, and I mean it!)…her BGF perky, ditzy timid Penny Pingleton (Caroline Colino … you rock, girl!). In addition, in an after school detention (for having her hair sprayed and “out there”), she meets Seaweed (Malcolm Bishop) and his buds, black kids who teach her hip dance moves. Super dancing, guys. Seaweed has a cool mom (Damala Haire), owner of a record shop, and can she sing! David Allen as Corny Collins, you had it all going on! Well done! Very smooth!
Our heroine becomes an overnight sensation (love the blonde wig!), but not without negative characters standing in her way. Enter one pushy mother, Velma (Natasha Michael…well done!) with her “apple doesn’t fall from the tree” popular, pretty, but hateful daughter, Amber (Gina Santare). Velma is only interested in promoting Amber and keeping things “white”. And I can’t forget handsome, endearing Link Larrkin (Chad Michael Jervis), the heartthrob of all the girls.
Suffice to say, ACT II doesn’t lack for many surprises. Link becomes the love interest between Tracy and Amber. And flaky Penny falls in love! But not before she drives her mom crazy. Velma is liked by no one. Amber, well Amber is Amber. Someone ends up in jail! Blacks and whites come together in dance! That’s the best! There’s a huge finish for…I’m not saying. A “Miss Teenage Hairspray” competition is held. More dancing. Speaking of dancing, a stellar job done by the choreographers, Dominic Santos and Allyson Cohen-Sherlock! On the whole, the cast delivers an awesome performance.
Your mics let you down a time or two, but I’m certain, Catlin, you’re on it by now. Edna, sometimes it was a challenge to hear you, although you were a complete riot. It’s kind of difficult to project when you’re acting shy with your head lowered.
“You Can’t Stop the Beat” ought to have you toe-tapping all the way home!
Until the next show…
Music and Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Directed/Musical Direction by Marji Eldreth
Choreographed by Allyson Cohen-Sherlock and Dominic Santos
March 26 – April 3, 2011
Cab Calloway School of the Arts
100 N. DuPont Road
Wilmington, De 19805