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Hairspray

a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Mark O'Donnell/Thomas Meehan and Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Earl Smith Strand Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3786

SHOWING : July 23, 2010 - August 08, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction and Best Male and Female Lead to name a few, it’s “Hairspray!” The year is 1962 and Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad is going to do whatever it takes to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show. Can a big girl with big dreams–and even bigger hair–turn the whole town around and still have time to win the boy she loves? Don’t miss this dancing, romancing musical-comedy treat based on John Waters’ 1988 film classic, with a book by Mark O’Donnell and two-time Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan and a brand-new score by five-time Oscar-nominee Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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You Can't Stop to Breathe
by Dedalus
Thursday, August 19, 2010
4.5
I suppose, you CAN stop the beat, since Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s production of “Hairspray” has danced its last step and stiffened its last beehive. Which is a shame, because I found this show to be an energetic and skillful romp, perhaps even more enjoyable than the touring production that flitted through the Cobb Energy Center last year.

For those who need a recap, “Hairspray” is a 2002 adaptation of “out-there” filmmaker John Waters’ 1988 movie of 1962 Baltimore. “Full-figured” teenager Tracy Turnblad wants to dance on the Corny Collins TV show, and wants to bring all her “Uptown Minority” friends with her. Backed by her parents and her best friend, she not only gets her dream, she also gets the guy, teen-idol-in-the-making Link Larkin. Filled with toe-tapping and hummable faux-62 songs and fantasies, it is still grounded in the realities of mid-century segregation and racial attitudes. I liked the original John Waters movie, I liked the 2007 movie version of this musical, I liked last year’s tour, and I really liked this high wattage production.

To start with, I’m a big fan of the score of this show, which is very specific to several 1962 genres, including “suburban pop,” cutting-edge rhythm-and-blues, variety-show standards, and even a bit of gospel. The climactic “You Can’t Stop the Beat” has been a favorite since the show first opened, and I can’t listen to it without wanting to move. The styles and lyrics of the songs are quite good at evoking the era, one which I remember a lot better than I thought I would (I was 9 in 1962 – please don’t do the math).

This production is blessed with a dance-floor full of talent. At the center is Caitlin Smith (Tracy), a big-voiced dynamo who, from the opening notes, fills the stage with her sunny optimism and her “Don’t-Care-What-They-Think” confidence. In support, Nick Morrett (Corny), Courtney Godwin (Penny), Chase Todd (Link), Jevares Myrick (Seaweed), Alison Brannon (Amber), and Jalise Wilson (Little Inez) were spot on with their characterizations, their singing, and their dancing.

As Tracy’s hapless mother, Glenn Rainey continues his tour of ex-Harvey Fierstein roles by playing Edna as a truly realistic character rather than the expected “man in drag” spectacle she could have become. If Alan Kilpatrick’s Wilbur comes across at first as shticky and a bit out-of-place, by the time he gets to “You’re Timeless to Me,” he has settled down to convince us he’s a real (albeit eccentric) individual. Christy Baggett brings her usual charm to the hissable villain (Velma), and Kayce Grogan Wallace brings down the house with her Motormouth Maybelle and her shake-the-rafters R&B belt.

Music Director BJ Brown has done an outstanding job of balancing his tiny pit orchestra with his large and exuberant cast. In addition, designers Lee Shiver and Bradley Bergeron have given us a scene and lighting plot that serves the story as well (if not better) than did the high-tech touring company razzle-dazzle. Costumes (Lindsey Paris) and wigs (J. Montgomery Schuth) also evoked the era beautifully. In fact, all the production aspects were outstanding, and played their significant part in my total enjoyment of this show.

So, if you remember being the “out of the mainstream” misfit of your high school, If you had fantasies of winning a mate far “out of your league,” if you had daydreams of “sticking it to” the power-breakers unfairly keeping you down, or, if you just like to revel in and move to the music of 1962, this is a perfect show for you.

Sure, this particular mounting has closed, but this is such popular, fun-filled piece, that I daresay, there’ll be another before too long. You really CAN’T stop this particular beat!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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