Any production that brings as much pleasure to a kid as the Westchester Broadway dinner theater production of Hairspray brought to my niece, who's 13, is all right with me. I liked the production quite a bit, too. They've carried the show off with flair, capturing just the right spirit. I was curious how it would work for my niece, who is such a great fan of the Hairspray movies and knows every song by heart. I knew she'd inevitably be making comparisons. But her first words, when it was over, were: “I wish I could see it again.” And then she started relaying the highlights, starting with the rousing opening number, “Good Morning Baltimore,” in which members of the cast performed from different corners of the theater—not just the stage—and even crossed behind us so we felt like we were inside the action. Director/choreographer Richard Stafford made effective use of the space, playing well to all parts of the house, which surrounds the stage on three sides. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's score is catchy. Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan's book is packed with laughs, while making wise points about race relations. This production is an ensemble success. Erin McCracken (Tracy), Pat McRoberts (Corny Collins), Tripp Hampton (Link Larkin) and Elgin Giles (Seaweed) were standouts. Some of the supposed teens were played by actors who were too old for the roles, but the overall tone of this show—which the whole family can enjoy—was right, so such imperfections didn't matter that much.
(Pictured: Erin McCracken; photo by John Vecchiolla)
May 4, 2012