An old song, sung by two Rat Pack crooners named Frank Sintra and Dean Martin, says, “The weather outside is dreadful… snow, snow, snow. Some areas of Chicago were blanketed in nearly 18 inches of snow, but that didn’t stop theater devotees from packing the CIBC Theater for the premiere of Hairspray. And if you were one of those who braved the snow, ice, and wet, muddy downtown streets and sidewalks, you left the theater saying, “It was worth a minute.”
A new North American tour, led by Jack O’Brien and electrifying choreographer Jerry Mitchell, based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, Hairspray is a ‘wang dang doodle’ fun time for the whole family. With music and arrangements by Marc Shaiman, this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical will have you dancing and singing for you from the start of the play.
Set in 1962, Baltimore is where a teenage girl named Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show on local TV station WZZT, a weekly doo-wop dance TV series for teens. When an opening becomes available due to a dancer having to leave the show for nine months, Tracy wins a role on the show and becomes an overnight star. But, when she learns of the show’s segregation policies that blacks and whites cannot sing and dance together, she joins forces with her new friends to join the show and wins the Miss Teenage Hairspray pageant. 1962.
The impressive touring cast includes RuPaul’s Drag Race Andrew Levitt, aka Nina West, as Edna Turnblad, the mother of Tracy Turnblad, played by Niki Metcalf. Niki, who dreamed of playing the role of Tracy in Hairspray, was phenomenal. She really captured the naive love life teen who just wanted to dance and have fun. Plus, the talent on this North American tour graces us with the beautiful voice of Toneisha Harris as Motormouth Maybelle, whose jaw-dropping rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” will have you marching to the next picket line. .
Will Savarese is excellent as the sexy lover Link Larkin, Tracy passes out. And there’s Emery Henderson, who waited nine hours to audition for the role of the socially awkward teenager whose best friend is Tracy Turnblad, Penny Pingleton, Seawood’s biracial girlfriend, played by Brandon G. Stalling. Kaelee Albritton as Amber Von Tussle, Addison Garner as Velma Von Tussle, Christopher Swan as Wilbur Turnblad and other actors.
Kalea Leverette played Little Inez, the cute little sister of Seaweed, who won the competition in the film version of Hairspray in 2007. The vocal harmony of the Dynamites with Shante Clarke, Nichelle Lewis and Renee Reid was superb. And who can forget the star of the Corny Collins show, Billy Dawson, who nails this Corny Collins role.
Featuring hit songs like “Welcome to the ’60s,” “Good Morning Baltimore,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” Hairspray is a two-hour festival that will have you buzzing and buzzing all night long. But, of course, you can’t miss the title of this piece with all the Ultra Glow hairspray and spray cans on stage.
The cast of Hairspray’s 2007 film had an all-star cast with John Travolta, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and the incomparable Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle. Even writer, director John Waters made an appearance as a flasher. Additionally, Ricki Lake, who played Tracy Turnblad in the original 1988 film, has a role in the 2007 production of Hairspray.
The Corny Collins Show in Hairspray is a fictional program based on the real-life television series titled “The Buddy Deane Show. A teen dance show created by Zvi Shoubin and hosted by Winston “Buddy” Deane that airs on WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Maryland , was unfortunately canceled due to the network’s reluctance to join the program.
Let’s Play highly recommends Hairspray at the CIBC Theater.
Written by John Waters
Directed by Jack O’Brien
February 1 – February 13, 2022