BWW Review: HAIRSPRAY Full of Talent and Entertainment at The Playhouse
A lot of people don't know that San Antonio, Texas was the first city in the south to integrate the lunch counter at stores such as Woolworth. But, it's true. It was the beginning of change. HAIRSPRAY is a show that can be seen as one about change that started with one young lady who didn't want to accept that Negros were not allowed to be on the Corny Collins show with the Whites. As Tracy Turnblat changed the tide of the town of Baltimore, so many learned what it was like to treat everyone equally.
The Playhouse in San Antonio opened its production of HAIRSPRAY to a nearly sold-out crowd on July 7, 2017. There was a lot of buzz about this production, especially about Director Omar Leos. It seemed that everyone had high hopes for this production as Leos prepared the cast. And as it turns out, there was no disappoint in this production of HAIRSPRAY. It is an audience favorite in general and it's obvious to see that The Playhouse delivered a topnotch production.
In the lead spot of the show was Kass Ortiz. The role of Tracy Turnblad is very demanding and requires stamina and energy. Ortiz was not lacking either of those. She delivered her performance with grace and professionalism while showcasing the abundant talent she possesses. As Ortiz belted out "Good Morning Baltimore," it was plain to see why she was chosen for the role. Her voice was strong and melodious. And along with the voice, Ortiz also showed she had the moves needed to dance and share her energy and drive with the rest of the cast. It was very enjoyable to see Ortiz perform "I Can Hear the Bells" with the rest of the cast as she allowed them to blend with her voice and never over sang.
Playing Tracy's mother, Edna Turnblad, was David Nanny. This was a standout performance by Nanny. He took the part of Edna very seriously and it was easy to see that he seemed to channel mothers he may have known in his own life, perhaps his own mother. Nevertheless, his portrayal was amazing and endearing. The relationship that Edna and Tracy have in the show is very important to the plot of HAIRSPRAY. And it was plain to see that the relationship between Nanny and Ortiz was not unlike Edna and Tracy. Seeing the strength of his acting, Nanny also showed his strength in singing especially when he sang "Welcome to the 60's" with Ortiz and then again when he sang "You're Timeless to Me" with Wilbur. And speaking of Wilbur, actor Stephen Martinez was perfect in that role. He connected with Nanny and the other actors and performed his supporting role with ease and comfort.
Lest you think that the two main characters were the only significant parts, we definitely need to mention some real stand-out performances in this production of HAIRSPRAY. Playing Edna's husband Wilbur was Stephen Martinez. His performance was amazing and his connection to Nanny was strong. It seems that they were the perfect actors to play the parents of Tracy. When Nanny and Martinez shared the stage in "You're Timeless to Me," it seemed like a match made in heaven. And Martinez's voice blended well with that of Nanny's.
Another stand out in this production of HAIRSPRAY was actress Danielle King as Motormouth Maybelle. One word comes to mind when she stepped onto the stage and began to sing "Big, Blonde and Beautiful." That word is "WOW!!!" What strength King had in her voice and command of the character as well. When King sang "I Know Where I've Been" with the Company, it seems as if the audience wanted to leap to their feet and applaud her amazing talent.
Actors Julian Canales as Seaweed and Cade Thomas as Link are talents to look out for in this production of HAIRSPRAY as well as future productions. They are young, but are filled with talent and a bright future on the stage.
HAIRSPRAY performances continue at the Playhouse from July 7-August 6, 2017. Purchase tickets by going to the Playhouse website. Don't miss it. It's one that San Antonians will be talking about for a long time to come.
PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel D. Baumer