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Niki Metcalf’s Tracy Turnblad Takes a Star Turn at Broadway SJ!

Review: HAIRSPRAY SINGS AT BROADWAY SAN JOSE at Broadway San Jose It's 1962 and perky, pretty and plump teen Tracy Turnblad has dance moves that will never be seen unless she can find a way to get on the local teen dance show, "The Corny Collins Show." Niki Metcalf shines as the effervescent, strong and kind Tracy Turnblad who dares to cross boundaries (she's often in detention for her big hair-don't) to stay true to herself.

Playing now thru November 28th at Broadway San Jose, there's still time to get your tickets and be carried away on dance wave of laughter and music from a phenomenal show with a stellar cast.

Beehives, flipped bobs, afros and bouffants all had one thing in common: hairspray. The looks defined the decade. Book writers Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan took this as their touchstone, imprinting it on the John Waters cult film classic of the same name. It won them the 2003 Tony for "Best Book of a Musical." Hairspray also won "Best Musical" and garnered six other Tony wins.

Playing Tracy Turnblad is a plum role for Niki Metcalf who has energy to spare. She's on stage for almost every scene and her vivacious, positive vitality never wanes. With a strong set of pipes and dazzling dance moves, her effervescence bubbles over to the rest of the cast and of course, to the audience, who loved her and the show immensely.

It's while Tracy is serving detention for her big "hair-don't" that she meets Seaweed (the dazzling Brandon G. Stalling) and some other African American kids. She recognizes him from "Negro Day," the TV dance show that happens just once a month and is hosted by Seaweed's mom, Motormouth Maybelle (Toneisha Harris; understudy Gabriyel Thomas). The dance moves he teaches her catch the eye of Corny Collins himself (the superbly corny Billy Dawson) who has come to the high school as a guest for the Sophomore Hop. He immediately invites her to be a regular on the show.

When Tracy tries to integrate the Crazy Collins show, she incurs the wrath of fellow dance regular Amber Von Tussle (the beautiful Kaelee Albritton) and her mother and producer of the show, Velma Von Tussle (played to despicable perfection by Addison Garner).

But hunky dance show regular Link Larken (Will Savarese) is taken with Tracy, who was dazzled by him from the beginning. Her best friend, the shy, bespeckled Penny Pingleton (Emery Henderson) falls in love with Seaweed, angering her mother. Special mention must go to actress Emmanuelle Zeesman who plays not only Penny's mom, Prudy Pingleton, but also the Gym Teacher and the prison Matron. She is a comedic gem.

Fretting endlessly for her daughter is Edna Turnblad (Andrew Levitt aka the dazzling drag queen extraordinaire Nina West), who steals the show on more than one occasion to the absolute delight of the audience! Edna is a tall, rotund woman who lives a quiet life, safe from the scorn and ridicule of the outside world. Her husband, Wilbur (the sweet, caring and funny Christopher Swan) loves Edna and Tracy unconditionally. Encouraged by Wilbur (You're Timeless to Me) and Tracy, Edna comes out of her shell and embraces life to the fullest.

Hairspray is set in 1962 but watching it in 2021, it is sobering to realize that not a lot has changed when it comes to equity, diversity and justice. But it is soul-satisfying that in Hairspray, the outcasts, the misfits, the overlooked and the perpetual pariahs have their day as they dance their way onto center stage, and in the process, integrate the "The Corny Collins Show." Hairspray the musical made the transition from the page to the stage. May its message of inclusion make its way permanently onto the world stage.

HAIRSPRAY the Broadway Musical
Now thru November 28

Book by Marc O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Music and Arrangements by Marc Shaiman
Broadway San Jose -
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