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Eastlight Theatre
August 5-7, 10-13
by Melody Delzell

Hairspray is high energy and dancing in the aisles.  If you're not laughing through this entire show, you're definitely always smiling. 

The opening scene has Tracy Turnblad (Katy Hawley), with her bed covers up to her chin, in her standing-on-end bed.  She hops out of the bed all dressed and in her signature white sneakers.  Katy's energy is extraordinary.  Tracy's best friend Penny (Kelsey Burd) is a ditzy redhead wearing saddle shoes and bobby-socks who bounces through the whole show. 

TV dance-show host Corny Collins (Chip Joyce) is coifed in what can only be described as a Squiggy hairdo, and he wears black and white spectators.  The teenage dancers on the TV show are fresh-faced and always happy; hence the show's theme song, "The Nicest Kids in Town."  The TV show's female lead dancer is Amber Von Tussle--swished, pranced and preened perfectly by Jessi Palkovic, in a big-hair platinum wig.  Amber's mom Velma Von Tussle, the TV show's producer, also has big platinum hair; she's self-important and LOVES the TV camera.  Ingrid Weiman was born to play Velma Von Tussle.

Tracy's mom Edna wears a muumuu and scuffie-slippers; she takes in ironing.  She's always ironing.  She also has big hair, big hair ribbons, and a man's voice.   Eric Ewan plays Edna admirably indeed.  You can't help smiling at Edna.

Tracy's dad Wilbur (Dan Challacombe) is kind of cuckoo, but he is always on Tracy's side.  Edna forbids Tracy to cut school to try out for the Corny Collins show, but Wilbur tells his daughter, "Go for it!"  At this, Edna reminisces, "I was going to be famous; I was going to be the biggest thing in brassieres."  [Smile]

The "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" number by the 3 moms and daughters is a highlight of this show, lively and cute.  Velma & Amber, Edna & Tracy, Prudy Pingleton (Sally Lawrence-Knapp) & Penny are backed up by all the girl dancers/singers.  Sally is also the gym teacher and the jail matron.

When Link sings "It Takes Two" to Tracy, the boys' quartet are backup singers; their dance movements aren't synchronized but it's funnier that way.  Tracy is trance-fixed, as Link is not only cute and a good singer, he's also the male lead dancer on Corny Collins' show.  When Tracy sings "I Can Hear the Bells," (wedding bells--in her dreams) the freeze action by the other 13 or 14 dancers is well done!

By phone, Mr. Pinky (Joel Shoemaker*) of Mr. Pinky's Hefty Hideaway: "Quality Clothes for Quantity Women" asks Tracy to be the store's spokeswoman. This necessitating a trip downtown by Tracy and her mom.  Tracy is trying to pull Edna out of the house and Edna, ashamed of her heftiness, resists; she hasn't been out of the house since who knows when?  *Joel also plays Harriman F. Spritzer and is an A+ school principal. 

The girls in the Dynamites trio (Bree Carroll, Devon Hawks, Dominique Reid) singing, "Welcome to the 60s" are outstanding!  While the trio sings, Edna and Tracy exit the Hefty Hideaway dressing rooms, dressed to the nines. This is a fun, rousing scene! 

Motormouth Maybelle (Amanda Skinner) is the well-loved emcee of the once-monthly Negro Day on Corny Collins' show--she rocks her numbers, "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" and "I Know Where I've Been."  Her motto, she tells Edna, is,  "The bigger the girth, the more you're worth" which gives Edna comfort.

Wilbur Turnblad is about half Edna's size--his arms don't reach around her--but they are crazy about each other; their soft-shoe dancing as they sing "You're Timeless to Me" is adorable.  Edna's pretty light on her feet!

Motormouth's advice to her son Seaweed (Brandon Chandler), who's in love with his white girlfriend Penny is to  "Prepare for a whole stream of ugly from a never-ending supply of stupid."  Funny but true.

The culmination of this story is the dance contest to elect 1962 Miss Teenage Hairspray.  The contest ends with a surprise for Amber (she's not it), and one for mom Velma too (her new job is spokeswoman for a line of beauty products for women of color).  Auditions for this show must have been over-the-top fun; the casting is right on. 

Hairspray runs August 5-7, 10-13 at Eastlight Theatre.  Tickets are available by calling the box office at 699-SHOW or at  Run; don't walk, to see Hairspray!

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