BWW Reviews: Raleigh Little Theatre's HAIRSPRAY

By: Aug. 25, 2014

Based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, the story of Hairspray takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in the year 1962, where we meet plump teenager Tracy Turnblad, whose lifelong dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, and meets a colorful array of characters. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show.

The musical adaptation first premiered on Broadway in the summer of 2002 which would then go on to not only win 8 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), but a run of 2,642 performances after concluding it on January 4th, 2009 after a total of more than six years on Broadway. It also spawned many more productions around the world as well as a hit 2007 film adaptation of the same name.

In this production currently playing at Raleigh Little Theatre through September 12th, while the sets do appear to be minimal, they are actually put to good use thanks to some very interesting (and realistic) staging ideas by director/choreographer, L.D. Burris.

Emma Wyatt leads the company as the sweetly charming Tracy Turnblad, she has the audience hooked from the moment she first enters onstage as she takes you on her journey through the show. We meet a wonderful cast of characters played by a very talented cast of actors. The two standouts of the supporting cast include Kevin Ferguson as Tracy's eccentric, yet loving father, Wilbur Turnblad, and Tina Morris-Anderson whose gospel voice perfectly matches the big, blonde, and beautiful character known as Motormouth Maybelle. Other members of the ensemble include Tony Hefner as Tracy's plus-sized mother, Edna Turnblad; Elin Waring as Tracy's slightly dorky, yet devoted best friend, Penny Pingleton; Tim Malboeuf as the teen heartthrob, Link Larkin; DaRay Graham as the hip negro dancer, Seaweed J. Stubbs; as well as Gretchen Bruesehoff and Natalie Turgeon as the villainous duo, Amber and Velma Von Tussle.

With the additions of some exquisite lighting designs by Elizabeth Grimes Droessler, some colorful costume designs by Vicki Olson, some very real sound effects, and a very effective orchestra conducted by musical director, Julie Florin, RLT's production of 'Hairspray' will most certainly leave you dancing in your seats all night long.


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