The Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall is the site of this beehive of musical energy that began on October 12th and continues through October 24th. From choruses of "that was sooo much fun," to "I want to see it again and right now!" the opening night audience responded with unabashed enthusiasm.
HAIRSPRAY is awash with the optimism of 1962. Tracy Turnblad awakens with the wide eyed wonder of a true believer. Keala Settle infuses Tracy with warmth, humor and generosity. She immediately engages the audience with her incredible vocal interpretations and great dance moves and never lets go. From "Good Morning Baltimore" and "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now," double entendres abound and themes reverberate. Tracy's mom, Edna, played to perfection by Blake Hammond, balances on the edge of parody but maintains a sympathetic posture as the plus size duckling who makes the swan turn. Hammond was particularly effective in the ode to long married love, "Timeless to Me."
While Tracy is trying to get on the local dance show, she musically encounters the host, Corny Collins, played with the appropriate narcissistic abandon by Troy Britton Johnson, and the producer, the legendary Miss Baltimore Crabs, the perpetual size two, Velma
Von Tussle energetically portrayed by Susan Cella. But in the midst of Tracy's focused quest, true love and the 1960's Motown sound come calling. Her enthusiastic response lands our fair haired and feckless heroine in detention and finally special education. For beneath the extravagant hair and exuberant music and dance numbers questions of integration, feminine empowerment and individual responsibility are brewing. Charlotte Crossley as Motormouth Mabelle gives voice to these concerns in "Big, Blonde & Beautiful, the rousing conclusion to Act One, and the moving and beautifully effective, "I Know Where I've Been." This emotionally laden number was just one of several times the audience was on its feet.
From a very funny scene at the Baltimore Women's House of Detention to the happily ever after conclusion that "You Can't Stop the Beat," Act Two is fast, spirited and playful. Alan Mingo Jr. delivers an elegant and graceful Seaweed, and Worth Williams' Amber, Tracy's deliciously malicious nemesis and Austin Miller's Link, the love interest, further enhance the outstanding ensemble cast. They blend into a seamless world that reaches out to the audience with a limitless sense of joy. Be good to yourself and reach back.
HAIRSPRAY is based on a New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters. The book is written by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. The score is by Marc Shaiman and the very funny lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The play is directed by Jack O'Brien, with Jerry Mitchell developing the high energy choreography. The scenic design so light, bright and evocative is by David Rockwell and the right off the rack and right over the top costume design is by William Ivey Long. Lighting design is by Kenneth Posner and sound design is by Steve C. Kennedy. HAIRSPRAY is produced by Margo Lion; Adam Epstein; The Baruch-Viertel-Routh-Frankel Group; James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer; Rick Steiner/Frederic H. Mayerson; SEL & GFO; New Line Cinema, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment; A. Gordon/E. McAllister; D. Harris/M. Swinsky; J. & B. Osher
HAIRSPRAY is part of the Bank of America Broadway Series at Segerstrom Hall.
Performances are Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.;
Saturdays & Sundays at 2:00 p.m.;
Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
For further information check the Center's Web site, www.ocpac.org