Review: HAIRSPRAY Stuns Audiences at Desert Stages Theatre
Bold, bright, and breathtaking can all be used to describe Desert Stage's production of HAIRSPRAY, an amusing show starring a mix of 31 spectacular performers. Upon entrance to DST's new venue inside of the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, the view of the set and venue is amazing. Designed by Dorann Matson, the set is filled with several platforms to provide easy visibility of the show from all angles, accompanied by a bright backdrop and several amazing set pieces that glide across the stage throughout the show.
Heading the show is McKenna Spanko, playing Tracy Turnblad, who pulls the audience along on her journey to becoming famous with an incredible voice and energy to go along with it. Throughout the show, McKenna reels in audience members from song to song, leaving us to fall in love with Tracy even more by the minute. Tracy is accompanied by her best friend, yet hesitant partner-in-crime, Penny Pingleton, played by Quincy Anntinette Janisse, who packs a spectacular, serious punch with her powerhouse vocals in Act 2 during "Without Love". Rounding out this incredible trio is Ava Diane Tyson, playing Amber Von Tussle, a beautiful blonde with a hint of attitude always impeccably displayed through her body language and facials. All three girls dove into "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now", leaving me wanting more.
Introducing us to perhaps the focus point of the show was Corny Collins (Rob Dominguez, full of raw humor and unmatchable energy), surrounded by an ensemble of talented teens with larger-than-life dance moves and even bigger personalities. Stand-out performances included Justin Walker (Brad, with an incredible amount of energy radiating from him at all times) and Brooke Nielson (a beautiful personality and voice).
Motormouth Maybelle (Iesha Renee Mills) earned a thunderous round of applause after singing "I Know Where I've Been", a soulful performance with several other ensemble members, leaving not one dry eye in the house. Alongside her, Seaweed J. Stubbs (Jaziel Micheal Campos Jones) enveloped us in his smooth dance moves and obvious charm.
The review would not be complete without praising the wonderful production staff; with direction by Damon Bolling and music-direction by ElizaBeth Spencer, every word was heard and had emotion behind it; the choreography (by Kim Rodriguez) embodied every aspect of the 60s, tied together with appealing costumes designed by Richard "Mickey" Courtney.
This iconic Broadway show cannot be missed this fall season. DST's HAIRSPRAY opened October 6th and runs through November 5th. You can visit desertstages.org to purchase tickets.