BWW Review: HAIRSPRAY at North Shore Music Theatre

BWW Review: HAIRSPRAY at North Shore Music Theatre

The 2003 Broadway Musical Hairspray, with a Tony Award-winning book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and a Tony Award-winning score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman featuring the hit songs "Welcome To The '60s," "You Can't Stop The Beat," "Mamma, I'm A Big Girl Now," "I Know Where I've Boon," and many more is at running at North Shore Music Theatre through November 11, 2018. Don't miss this excellent production.

The story begins in 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland, where a quirky, plus-sized, teenager, Tracy Turnblad, has One Dream: to dance on The Corny Collins Show. At school, she gets placed in detention, for her rebellious behavior where she meets some of the African-American students in the school. They teach her some new and exciting dance moves, and at a second audition, Tracy lands a regular spot on Corny's show. Soon, Tracy's popularity, with kids like her who watch the show, lifts her from a nobody into a star, and she uses her influence to advocate for racial integration on the television show. From the start, Tracy is bullied by the network producer, Velma, and her popular, but vicious, daughter, Amber. But with her kind heart and honest approach she wins support from the teenage heartthrob Link, and show's host Corny Collins, as well as from Motormouth Maybelle (the host of 'Negro Day'). Against all odds, Tracy succeeds in her mission to integrate The Corny Collins Show. Tony Award-winning Hairspray continues to be one of the most widely produced musicals today, not only because of its wit and charm but also because of the beautiful message of acceptance and inclusion that it portrays. The heartwarming and vital story of Tracy Turnblad teaches us all to look past the color of one's skin and fight for every human being's equal rights.

Kudos to Casting Director Matthew Chappell, and Director/Choreographer Jeff Whiting. This is one of the strongest casts I have ever seen in this Musical. There is not a weak link in the entire cast. Mr. Whiting's excellent direction and choreography is also a huge part of the production's success.

Some of the standouts in the cast are Blake Hammond as Edna Turnblad and Philip Hoffman (Wilbur Turnblad), their duet in "You're Timeless to Me" was sensational. Altamiece Cooper (Motormouth Maybelle) delivered a show-stopping moment with her strong and powerful voice in "I know where I've Been". Stephen Scott Wormley as (Seaweed J. Stubbs) in "Run and Tell That" was one of the show's finest moments, and along with the amazing, Brooke Shapiro as Tracy Turnblad, Christina Emily Jackson (Penny Pingleton), and Zane Phillips (Link Larkin) in the number "Without Love", they created another memorable moment. Merrill Peiffer (Velma Von Tussle) has an incredibly strong voice and was one of the strongest actors in the company, superbly playing the villain you love to hate. Finally, it was wonderful to see local actress Cheryl McMahon (Female Authority Figure, u/s Velma) be so successful in numerous comedic roles. The orchestra was brilliant under the direction of Milton Granger (Music Director), and the wig and hair design by Gerard Kelly, was exceptional, and as always the running crew and stage management was flawless.

For many years I have heard people say, "we have such great theatre right here in Boston why would I drive all the way to the North Shore to see a musical". The answer is summed up in this terrific show, "Because NSMT productions are every bit as good, and in this case, better than anything currently running in Boston".

So, if you have always thought of attending a show at North Shore Music Theatre this is one to go see, you will be glad you made the trip!

The cast of HAIRSPRAY is led by Blake Hammond as Edna Turnblad and Brooke Shapiro as Tracy Turnblad. Blake Hammond is stepping into the role of Edna Turnblad once more having played her in the Broadway company of Hairspray. He has also appeared on Broadway in Living on Love, First Date, Sister Act, Elf, Billy Elliot, The Lion King, The Music Man, Kiss Me Kate, and On The Town. His Off-Broadway credits include When Pigs Fly, Carnival and Do Re Mi at Encores. Other credits include National Tours of Something Rotten, Cinderella, The Addams Family, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Brooke Shapiro returns to North Shore Music Theatre where she was last seen as Jan in the 2014 production of Grease. She has performed off-Broadway in My Big Gay Italian Midlife Crisis, The Calico Buffalo, and did the first NYC reading of Love in Hate Nation (a new musical by Joe Iconis). Brooke has also performed in regional theaters across the country including Goodspeed Opera House, Cape Playhouse, Zach Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, and Gateway Playhouse.

Rounding out the cast of HAIRSPRAY is Altamiece Cooper (Motormouth Maybelle), Marie Eife (Amber Von Tussle),Philip Hoffman (Wilbur Turnblad), Christina Emily Jackson (Penny Pingleton), Kevin B. McGlynn (Male Authority Figure, u/s Edna/Wilbur), Cheryl McMahon (Female Authority Figure, u/s Velma), Marty McNamee (Corny Collins), Merrill Peiffer (Velma Von Tussle), Zane Phillips (Link Larkin), Nazarria Workman (Little Inez), and Stephen Scott Wormley (Seaweed J. Stubbs).

The creative team for HAIRSPRAY includes Jeff Whiting (Director/Choreographer), Milton Granger (Music Director), Kyle Dixon, (Scenic Design), Kelly Baker (Costume Coordination),Jose Santiago (Lighting Design), Kevin Heard (Sound Design), Gerard Kelly (Wig and Hair Design), Natalie A. Lynch (Production Stage Manager), Dakotah Wiley Horan (Assistant Stage Manager), and Robert L. Rucinski (Assistant Music Director). HAIRSPRAY is produced for North Shore Music Theatre by Bill Hanney (Owner/Producer), Kevin P. Hill (Producing Artistic Director), and Matthew Chappell (Associate Producer, Casting Director).

Tickets for HAIRSPRAY are priced starting from $59 - $84 - Kids 18 and under save 50%. Performances are October 30 thru November 11, Tue - Thurs at 7:30 pm, Fri & Sat at 8 pm, matinees Wed, Sat and Sun at 2 pm. For tickets and information call (978) 232-7200, visit nsmt.org, or visit the box office at 62 Dunham Rd., Beverly, MA.

Additional Free Audience Enrichment events: Meet the Theatre: post-show audience discussion with the artists on November 6 after the 7:30 pm performance and November 10 after the 2 pm performance; OUT at the North Shore, an evening for the Gay and Lesbian Community with a post-show reception (sponsored in part by Ryan & Wood Inc.) on November 8 after the 7:30 pm performance.

North Shore Music Theatre will conclude the 2018 season with the 28th annual production of A Christmas Carol starring David Coffee (December 7 - 23).

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From This Author David Tompkins

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