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Hairspray not really permanent; fun musical ends on June 4

by Marie Male

WATERLOO - Hairspray holds fast to conviction while delivering a colossal sugar rush. Racism and discrimination are brought down while never skipping a dance beat.    

Set in Baltimore during the 1960s TV dance craze, a cherubic  high school girl dances and sings from outcast to celebrity trendsetter.

She wins a coveted appearance on the The Corny Collins Show, and the heart of dreamboat Link Larkin, all the while breaking down barriers for black and white integration on local television.

This Broadway musical now playing at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse has undergone a transformation from the campy film Hairspray, as written by John Waters.

His affinity for weirdos and outcasts motivated the cultural themes that are now retained as a subversive edge under show business gloss.

The  raunchiness of former productions has been tamed to a whole lot of fun for the family.

Stephanie Pitsiladis is the star of the show as the girl with the prom do gone awry, Tracy Turnblad.

She played the role previously in Toronto and at the Charlottetown Festival and brings skill and energy to this debut for Drayton Entertainment. Her strong singing voice and cute appeal blow away the notion that “fat folks can’t be beautiful.”

A delight of the show is the team of Ian Deakin as Tracy’s doubting mother, Edna, and  Larry Mannell as her frisky dad, Wilbur. Their duet, Timeless To Me is memorable and recalls some camp. The role of the rotund Edna was made famous by transvestite Divine and later John Travolta in the movie roles.

David Cotton is called upon once again as he caricatures the role of heartthrob Larkin. Laura Mae Nason as his girlfriend, Amber, with “acne of the soul” is wonderfully annoying in her mean girl role.

Marianne McCord is hilarious as Amber’s mean mother, Velma; the original copy that “spawned” Amber.

Captivating with the emotional high of the show in the anthem I Know Where I’ve Been, is Nichola Lawrence as Motormouth Maybelle. The audience is treated to a taste of Motown with the Dynamites, a trio inspired by the Supremes. Alana Randall as Peaches, Karen Andrew as Cindy Watkins, and Trudy Lee Gayle as Pearl harmonize beautifully.

Making mountains out of molehill roles is Keith Savage, standing out as always as principal of Patterson Park High School and Mr. Spitzer, the snooty president of Ultra Clutch Hairspray.

Upon the spirited cast of some 26 players director Alex Mustakas has bestowed his wealth of experience as long standing artistic director for Drayton Entertainment. He has directed many Broadway musicals and, in fact, close to 100 productions over the past 20 years, including a North American tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

A really great band,  though unseen, as always is conducted by music director Elizabeth Baird. Numbers such as Good Morning Baltimore, Welcome to the 60s and You Can’t Stop the Beat contribute much to the show’s appeal.

Hairspray runs through June 4.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, online at stjacobscountryplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 519-747-7788 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866).

 

May 27, 2011

 
 

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