Walnut Street's HAIRSPRAY is a 'Must DO'
The Walnut Street Theatre has done it again, as they continue their 200th anniversary season with HAIRSPRAY. This all-new production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show explodes onto the Walnut stage with one toe-tappin' hit after another.
Hairspray's world premiere opened on Broadway in 2002, with an original score by Academy Award-nominated Marc Shaiman of South Park fame and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Hairspray went on to win eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score. In 2007, a popular film version of the musical was released nationwide.
Set in 1962, Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart. She wins a spot on "The Corny Collins Dance Show" and overnight, is transformed into a teen dancing sensation. Tracy is on a mission to win over teen heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate a television show without denting her 'do!
Charles Abbott, who has helmed over 25 productions at the Walnut wastes no time building the characters in this production. The excitement of the cast is contagious. Amy Toporek (Tracy Turnblad) and Michael Walker (Edna Turnblad) work their magic with great chemistry together. Toporek simply soars every time she takes the stage - just a bubbly package of fun and talent. Josh Young ( Link Larkin), last seen flooring the crowd and the critics with his role as Marius in Walnut's Les Miserables, once again wows the folks in Philly with a joyful amount of spunk and hip swiveling rock and roll as the teen idol Link.
There is plenty of exciting dancing from the ensemble in the capable hands of choreographer Mary Jane Houdina (Walnut Street's 42nd Street). Neil Totton (Seaweed J. Stubbs) raises the temperature and burns the stage with his fancy footwork and Joilet F. Harris (Motormouth Mabel) grabs her share of attention with fun loving rhyming and a soulful cry with her rendition of "I Know Where I've Been". Domonique Paton (L'il Inez) also surprises with an incredible voice. Ben Dibble (Corny Collins) always makes his mark with his character roles. How an actor can move between the role of Lee Harvey Oswald (ASSASSINS) and Corny Collins so convincingly is simply mind- boggling.
The most eye catching aspect of this production is the whimsical, cartoon-like sets and impressive lighting presented by the talents of scenic designer Robert Andrew Kovach (Windy City, Peter Pan), and lighting by Paul Black (Peter Pan).
The cast of HAIRSPRAY is an exciting blend of familiar and new faces at the Walnut, including Sean Bell, Kennen Butler, Nikki Curmaci, Ben Dibble (Corny Collins), Kate Fahrner (Amber Van Tussle), Brian Golub, Joilet Harris (Motormouth Mabel), Danielle Herbert, Joe Jackson, Regan Kays, John-Charles Kelly, Marisa Kennedy, Liz Kimball (Penny Pingleton), Kalia Lynne, Stanley Martin, Domonique Paton, Devin L. Roberts, Kerri Rose, Peter Schmitz (Wilbur Turnblad), Connie Shafer, Crystal Sha'nae, Alex Michael Stoll, Amy Toporek (Tracey Turnblad), Neil Totton (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Michael Walker (Edna Turnblad), Beth Wheeler, Denise Whelan (Velma Van Tussle) and Josh Young (Link Larkin).
HAIRSPRAY runs at the Walnut November 4 through January 4. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting http://www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.
Photo Credits: Photos by Brett Thomas
Photo #1 Josh Young (Link Larkin) Amy Toporek (Tracy Trunblad)
Photo # 2 Michael Walker (Edna Trunblad) & prison scene (ensemble)
Photo # 2 Closing scene (ensemble)