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BWW Review: HAIRSPRAY at the Fisher Theatre Dazzles Audiences with a Joyful Score and Gifted Young Cast

See this modern marvel through January 30th at the Fisher Theatre.

Hairspray (Non Eq)
Toneisha Harris as "Motormouth Maybelle" and company of Hairspray.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel.

Through January 30th, the famous musical Hairspray will be "welcoming you to the 60s" at the Fisher Theatre in downtown Detroit. Hairspray premiered on Broadway in August 2002, and at the 2003 Tony Awards, the show won 8 awards. These included, but were not limited to: Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book.

Based on the 1988 film of the same name, Hairspray centers on teenager Tracy Turnblad as she, despite all odds, attempts to be a featured dancer on The Corny Collins Show, a local daytime T.V. show that features young dancers from Baltimore. As this musical takes place in 1962, the main plot point centers on the chaos that ensues when Tracy, already an outcast because of her weight, makes a well-intentioned effort to get Black teenagers as full time dancers on The Corny Collins Show.

As a cultural phenomenon for the greater part of 20 years, the Hairspray musical is a gem of a show that doesn't come around to Detroit all too often. In fact, this engagement is only its second official visit to Detroit, according to the playbill. Consequently, when this show makes an appearance in a city near you, you need to take advantage of the opportunity to see it live. Songs such as "Welcome to the 60's," "Run and Tell That," and "You Can't Stop the Beat" exude energy that you can feel down into your bones. This national tour is no exception. A seasoned Hairspray fan will hardly be able to contain themselves from singing along to the songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and newcomers to the show will surely be tapping their feet to the irresistible beats the show continuously delivers.

Audiences on January 19th had the pleasure of seeing Faith Northcutt's understudy debut as Tracy, and you could see the exuberance on her face as she sang and tap danced her way through the show. From the moment the curtain went up on the song "Good Morning Baltimore," Northcutt immediately sold the audiences on her rendition of Tracy. Youthful, determined, and excited, Northcutt was Tracy on that evening. Regardless of whether you see Northcutt or the principle Tracy actress, Niki Metcalf, you'll be able to witness for yourself an up and coming actress thrive in a role they were destined to play.

Hairspray (Non Eq)
Niki Metcalf as Tracy Turnblad, Andrew Levitt (aka Nina West) as Edna Turnblad, and company of Hairspray.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel

The rest of the cast was equally phenomenal, with specific highlights being Andrew Levitt as Edna Turnblad, Brandon G. Stalling as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Toneisha Harris as Motormouth Maybelle, and Emery Henderson as Penny Pingleton. Levitt and Harris got a wild amount of applause any time they took the stage, and Henderson and Stalling were a precious duo that you couldn't help but fall in love with.

Outside of the iconic score and top-notch talent, specific highlights of this production include the choreography and costume design. Both flashy and more understated costumes have a chance to shine, and the choreography works to highlight them even more. Clean and cheery, the choreography serves as a tribute to the dancing trends of the 60's while also putting its own spin on the era.

Though the stage show is vastly different from the beloved movie rendition from 2007, Hairspray proves to be an incredibly joyful night of theatre that also makes audiences think about the significance of what the story is all about. Meaningful discussions of social justice alongside catchy (and occasionally soulful) songs quickly made Hairspray a modern classic 20 years ago, and it will continue to be one for a long time. It's an honor that the city of Detroit can witness this marvel live and in-person.

For more information or to buy tickets to Hairspray, visit, call 800-982-2787, or visit the Fisher Theatre in downtown Detroit.

To keep updated with Hairspray as they travel around the country on their national tour, follow them on their website at, on Twitter at @hairsprayontour, on Instagram at @hairsprayontour, and on Facebook at

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