Currently enjoying its 5th year on Broadway, this Tony winning block buster musical comedy is still fresh and irresistibly fun. The current tour stopped in for a spin at the Academy of Music from May 2 through 4th and the audience was pumped and ready for fun.
Set in 1962, Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart. She wins a spot on "The Corny Collins Dance Show" and overnight, is transformed into a teen dancing sensation. Determined to win over teen heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate a television show without denting her 'do.
The characters are well developed with this non Equity touring company as they put their own stamp on the production. Understudy Sarah Roussos played the role of Tracy Turnblad. What Roussos lacks in over plumpness is outweighed in talent. Her characterization of Tracy was delightful from her well delivered vocals to her high energy dancing. It wasn't long before the audience was rooting for her.
Michael Walker, who plays Tracy's mother Edna, is another surprise twist. A cross dresser of considerable girth, Walker displays a dry sense of humor and worrisome wit but never quite blossoms into the flamboyant Ednas of the past. However Walker is a perfect compliment for her zany, over amorous husband Wilbur played by Dan Ferretti. The duet "Timeless To Me" has the audience and the actors cracking up.
The company is extremely strong with high energy and tight choreography. Several "bring down the house" numbers that delight all. Marsena Euince Bowers (Motormouth Maybelle) nails her solo "I Know Where I've Been", while Jacqueline Grabois (Velma Von Tussel) is wonderfully snobby. The standout character in this production is Sharon Malane's Penny Pingelton, Tracy's ditsy best friend. Malane simply captures the crowd with unexpected natural comedy. Taylor Frey plays heartthrob Link Larkin with passion and cuteness.
Sets are minimal with clever use of backdrops and lighting. Costumes are impressively 60's and colorful. The direction of the production is packed with action and flows nicely from scene to scene. This heartwarming Hairspray tour is a great big fat fun hit.
Hairspray- Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Music by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, Choreography recreated by Danny James Austin, Choreography by Jerry Mitchell, Directed by Matt Lenz, original Direction by Jack O'Brien.
Hairspray played at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from May 2-4
For information about the Broadway Series at the Academy visit www.kimmelcerter.org/broadway or call 1.215.790.5883 or 866.276.2947