BWW Review: HAIRSPRAY at Starlight Theatre Kansas City
Audience on a Hairspray high at the Starlight!
Hang on to your sandals, because Hairspray will knock your socks off! While all the shows this summer, at Starlight, have been good, Hairspray earns a top spot. Locally produced, this show fills the broad stage with incredible lights, music, dancing, and a story that rings as true today as it did in the 1960's when this show takes place.There is no shortage of talent in this largely local cast, including the remarkable Jessica Alcorn as Tracy Turnblad.
Hairspray is the story of teenager Tracy Turnblad, of Baltimore, who dreams of dancing on the popular TV dance show "The Corny Collins Show." After her audition wins a spot on the show, Tracy uses her overnight success to wield influence to make the show integrated (much to the dismay of the show's producer - Velma Von Tussle). Tracy's honest heart catches the attention of show heartthrob, Link Larkin, who has just pledged his loyalty to Amber Von Tussle. Along with her "showmates" Tracy goes up against the authorities, who attempt to stop her, and turns the show right side up. But the big question is, will her push for change also push her love Link away as well?
Hairspray is as popular today as it was when it opened in 2002 at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. It was rewarded with an impressive 8 Tony awards at the 2003 show. This uplifting musical highlights themes of unity, self-confidence, and acceptance inspiring audiences to find their inner self-love. As impressive as Starlight's show is, it is surprising that it is so tightly put together considering a number of the cast are only in high school!
Alcorn's Tracy is spot on and her performance reaches heights as big as her hair. She's quirky fun, dances up a storm, and sings with girl-power authority. Broadway favorite, Brad Oscar, as Edna Turnblad fills the iconic matronly role with levity. Cathy Barnett makes the role of Velma the one the audience loves to hate. Don Denton is cunningly charismatic as Corny Colins, and Eric Geil plays Link Larkin torn between love and career.
The versatile actress Katie Karel crafts yet another memorable character with Penny Pingleton. Karel pushes the envelope, once again, by giving a supporting role a star turn that is both well-layered and hilarious. Stephen Scott Wormley, cast opposite Karel, plays Seaweed with enough swagger, smooth-moves, and vocal skill to keep the audience riveted every time the two appear on stage.They make us want to be that couple.
Regina LeVert, as Motormouth Maybelle, is a vocal dynamo and her rendition of "I Know Where I've Been" rang through the hills around Swope Park. Levert is just one of those singers who wring every drop of emotion from each note. So be warned, take your heart pills before coming to the show. Other musical standout songs include: Mamma, I'm a Big Girl Now, Welcome to the 60's, Good Morning Baltimore, and You Can't Stop the Beat.
There's a strong supporting cast with vivid and entertaining characters including: Erin Riley, TJ Lancaster, Cathy Newman, Bruce Roach, Shon Ruffin, Chioma Anyanwu, Justin Armer, Kameryn Behrend, Kelly Taylor Brown, Darrington Clark, Marty Craft, CARTER ELLIS, Gabbie Fried, Courtney Germany, Janae Hammond, Kayli Jamison, Andre Darnell Myers, Aramie Payton, Michael Russell, Krystle Simmons, Torissa Walker, Donovan Woods, Janie Carr, Joey Ferguson, Katie Hulla, Holly Jackson, Amari Lewis, Katie Venteicher, Megan Walstrom, and Savanna Worthington.
Jerry Jay Cranford directs and Choreographed (along with Christina Burton) the show exquisitely. Music Director Anthony T. Edwards and orchestra are superb. Lighting Designer, Kirk Bookman, delivers on some very artistic visuals that transform the sets and stage with architectural precision. Mike Rukstad's sound design was crisp and clear as a bell. And, Kenneth Burrell & Vincent Scassellati were obviously up to their necks with costumes, wigs, and of course...hairspray.
Hairspray runs July 27 through August 2, 2018 at the Starlight. A few notes about Starlight...it's an outdoor venue, but don't be afraid if it's hot out. By the time the show starts all seats are in the shade and the light breeze from some state-of-the-art fans keeps it comfortable. The expansive seating may put one at the back of the house, but two large screens up front provide close-up views of the actors to enhance the performance. The show is about 2 hours with a 20 minute intermission. There are a concessions of all varieties and adult beverages in addition to a restaurant.
Tickets for Hairspray at Starlight Theatre are available online at kcstarlight.com , by calling the box office at 816-363-STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City MO 64132. Onsite parking is $15 for paved and $10 for grass so have your cash ready.
Photos courtesy of Starlight