Hairspray Is A High Energy Hit

Allie Gillman ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

It isn’t often that a show comes along that can entertain both young and old, have them clapping along to the musical numbers, and leave them whistling the tunes for the rest of the day. Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Hairspray is an exception. The audience—which was comprised of all ages from elementary schoolchildren to senior citizens—was enthralled for its entire two-plus hours, which is a testament to the energy and commitment of everyone involved in this thoroughly enjoyable, high-octane production.

Photo courtesy of Wheelock Family Theatre
Photo Courtesy of Wheelock Family Theatre

Hairspray, a musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, was a multiple Tony award-winning success when it premiered on Broadway in 2002. The stage production is based on John Waters’ film by the same name, and ran for over 2,500 performances in New York. It pays homage to the music culture of Baltimore in the 1960s, including pop and rhythm and blues.

The story follows Tracy Turnblad, an overweight girl with a talent for dance and an eye for the underdog, whose dream is to dance on the popular teenage-dance program, The Corny Collins Show. Tracy’s dream is realized, but some of her African American friends aren’t given that same opportunity. She decides to use her newfound celebrity status to take a stand to integrate the television station until everyone, no matter their race or size, has the chance to dance together for all of Baltimore to see.

Photo courtesy of Wheelock Family Theatre
Photo Courtesy of Wheelock Family Theatre

Wheelock Family Theatre’s production is lively and colorful, and features a talented ensemble of local college students. This includes three current Emersonians: Ciara-Dawn Washington, Devin Holloway and Jon Allen as Seaweed J. Stubbs, who wins over the audience right away with his smile and smooth moves. Other standouts were Jennifer Beth Glick with an adorable portrayal of Tracy’s super-supportive best friend who can belt her face off, Penny Pingleton, and Michael Notardonato as Link Larkin, whose voice made all the girls in the audience melt the second he opened his mouth.

This production is two hours of musical theatre deliciousness you won’t want to miss. Audience members left the theatre with a smile on their faces, dancing and humming along. What more could you want in an afternoon’s entertainment, except for a beehive hairdo of your own?

Hairspray plays at the Wheelock Family Theatre now through February 23rd.

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