I can only image the phone call when Theater Producer Margo Lions called John Waters and informed him she wanted to make one of his movies into a Broadway Musical. Water's if you are not aware is the king of trash movies, his career started with such classics as “Hag in A Black Leather Jacket” and “Eat Your Makeup” and though he evolved over the years, I don't think anyone would consider Waters' mainstream.
Hairspray is probably the least like Waters' of any of his work. If you want an example of how far out Waters' vision is, look up his film Polyester on Wikipedia and read about the final scene. Here there is nothing really shocking, but you will never go long without a bit of dialogue that screams John Waters.
Hairspray is really a thoughtful narrative on the civil rights movement in 1960's Baltimore and an excellent representation of how African Americans culture had great impact on the greater culture, but it was taken without credit and without respect. It is because of these reasons this makes perfect sense as a Broadway Musical and with music by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell it is probably the most fun show I have ever seen.
Hairspray is the story of an overweight teenager with dreams of fame, and she believes her road to stardom begins with securing a spot on The Corny Collins Show. In the sixties their were a plethora of local and national dance shows where kids would dance to the latest tunes, and while it would never work today, back then this was entertainment. What is most John Waters' about Hairspray is putting a large girl on this show. This probably never would have happened in the then, she was to big to be marketable. But she does get on the show, and becomes the star.
The show becomes the most interesting when Tracey as someone who has always felt an outcast because of her size uses her new found fame to take on the establishment by forcing the issue of integration of the show.
I find it hard to call Casa Manana's production of Hairspray community theater, as they employ such amazing talent. While this is a local production put together for this theater, Casa searches from the New York theaters to L.A. for its' cast. Albeit their focus is always on local talent. This cast of 30 features 28 actors that call Dallas/Fort Worth home.
In the original Hairspray Tracy's mother was played by the worlds first drag superstar, the late Divine. That tradition has been followed in all subsequent productions and the Casa incarnation is no exception. Local favorite David Coffee plays Edna. You may recall Coffee from his recent brilliant portrayal of Heir Schultz in Dallas Theater Centers' Cabaret.
After seeing John Travolta destroy this role in the movie version of the musical it was so nice to enjoy this character again in a way I haven't since first seeing Divine in the original some 25 years ago. He is funny, engaging, and it is easy to see why this is the 75th show he has been cast in at Casa.
Jennifer Foster as Tracy channels Nikki Blonsky, I have seen Blonsky doing these numbers and Foster was every bit as fun and her personality in this role was infectious. I fell in love with this character in the opening number and the love affair continued to the finale.
John Arthur Greene as Link Larkin has a dream voice that I would love to sing me to sleep sometime. Donnell James Foreman as Seaweed was perfect casting. He had the moves, the voice and I loved every minute he was on the stage.
Laura Wetsel as Penny, Tracy's best friend was best when she fell for the forbidden black boy and he transformed her from shy nerd to sassy, hot mama.
Sydney Porter as Little Inez did not have much stage time, but when she was on stage I took notice. I never expected such a big voice coming from such a little package.
Sheran Goodspeed Keyton as Motormouth Maybelle stole the show. Her rendition of “I know where I've Been” was enthralling. She was amazing, and while this show was nonstop fun and features a rock solid cast, her time on stage was what I enjoyed most.
Cast of Hairspray
Before the show some of the students from the Casa Manana Apprentice program performed in the lobby. Casa's Apprentice program is is an audition-only, three-week summer intensive for ages 14 – 19. Students participate in a professionally produced, full-length musical, while learning character development, scene and score study, and the professional rehearsal process. It was so nice to have live entertainment in the lobby while waiting for the doors to open, and it didn't hurt that everyone of these kids were exceptional. Take notice, these young people are the Broadway stars of tomorrow.
The only talent was not on stage, I was thrilled to be seated behind the amazingly talented Tony Award winning actress Betty Buckley who I saw reading the part of Judy Shephard in The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Just reading a script she was brilliant!
Hairspray plays Fort Worth's Casa Manana Theater through Sunday, August 21st and tickets are $37.00-$62.00 but factor in Tickemasters' ridiculous service charge you are looking at another $10.00 at least. I understand they offer the convenience of buying online or over the phone and you have to pay for convenience, but on a $37.00 ticket that is 28% surcharge, not even a payday loan store has that much chutzpah.
Casa Manana has some great theater coming. To Kill A Mockingbird, Rent and Ring of Fire are on sale now, and whatever you do be in the audience for A Tuna Christmas with the original Broadway cast. If you have never seen a Tuna play, you don't know what you are missing. I saw them at the much larger Bass Hall, in this intimate setting, you can't go wrong. For more info visit http://www.casamanana.org
Comment by Kamil on 2012-11-29 10:21:27
Wondering Dance really mind blwinog performance of student and nice look. amazing planning of dance and interesting this post . i just shared video on facebook. thanks
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