Saturday, August 6, 2011
Jerry Mitchell, director/choreographer
Lon Hoyt, musical director
Harvey Fierstein (Edna Turnblad)
Marissa Jaret Winokur (Tracy Turnblad)
Susan Anton (Velma Von Tussle)
Corbin Bleu (Seaweed J. Stubbs)
Drew Carey (Wilbur Turnblad)
Diana DeGarmo (Penny Pingleton)
Mo Gaffney (Prudy Pingleton / Gym Teacher / Matron)
Nick Jonas (Link Larkin)
Darlene Love (Motormouth Maybelle)
Tara Macri (Amber Von Tussle)
Michael McDonald (Harriman F. Spritzer / Principal / Mr. Pinky / Guard)
John Stamos (Corny Collins)
Comments: Hairspray took over the Bowl last weekend for 3 shows. This is one show that has plenty of life left in it. It won 8 Tony’s including best musical back in 2003. The musical was based on John Waters’ non-musical version from 1988. And who can forget the big-screen version of the musical featuring John Travolta and Zac Efron in 2007. This was my second time seeing the Bowl’s big staged musical after seeing “Rent” last year. I have to say this one came off better that that did (even though I enjoyed that show too). Great cast, terrific staging and those catchy songs. Not to mention that it ends on a high note with “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
The story is basically the same in all it’s incarnations: Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager from Baltimore, becomes a sensation when she begins dancing on a TV dance show. She falls for the resident hunk and helps to integrate the show (blacks and whites dancing together). So some pretty heavy topics: weight issues, low self esteem, not fitting in, racism and sexism. Yet this is one of the happiest musicals you will ever see. Everyone can identify with being an outcast and not fitting in. We’ve all been there! We can relate to not being one of the popular kids, but wanting to be. And when Tracy becomes popular we get to share in her joy, as she raises up those around her, her mother, her friends and the community too.
This was my first time seeing the stage version, and there were a few differences. No “Ladies Choice” (From Link) and no “Miss Baltimore Crabs” (From Velma). There was a song that I was not familiar at all with called “The Big Dollhouse” when Tracy and the gang end up in jail. No reprise of “Big, Blonde & Beautiful” by the Velma character, but there was a reprise of “Good Morning Baltimore.” Plus I got to see/hear “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” which was on the 2007 soundtrack, but not in the movie.
The show started when some of the actors came out and sang the National Anthem in character. Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur reprised their award-winning roles from Broadway (as Edna and Tracy Turnblad) along with an all-star cast from stage, screen and the pop charts. Yeah, Marissa is a bit old for Tracy considering she is 38, but she is so good at the part, you can get past it. Harvey was good also. I preferred John Travolta’s vocals, but it was still a fun performance.
It seemed like there were a few more topical jokes than I remember from the movies. Nick Jonas was one the stand-outs for me in the show. He is still a teen idol himself at the ripe old age of 19. He had the moves, the voice and the look of someone who can make the girls (and gay guys) melt. I have been telling people for years how talented those brothers are. He will probably be getting more offers for Broadway after this show.
I loved how cheesy some things were. Like when the girls were in prison, with the jail door. And then when Link broke Tracy out of jail using some hairspray and a lighter. That scene was staged on the catwalk around the orchestra and lead into “Without Love.”
Corbin Bleu, another Disney alum, showed that he’s another triple threat too like Nick Jonas. Drew Carey did very well too in his role as Wilbur Turnblad, I loved his duet with Edna on “(You’re) Timeless to Me.”
Darlene Love was another stand-out for me. The name was familiar, but I couldn’t really place her. She did a lot of work with Phil Spector over the years, on her own hits and singing backup on other people’s hits too. Plus she was in the “Lethal Weapon” movies also. Her vocals on “I Know Where I’ve Been” brought the house down: strong, powerful, commanding… She totally owned the moment. It was an excellent vocal! She played this role on Broadway too from what I read.
For the finale, the Bowl even brought out more dancers that went out into the aisles of the first section and danced along as the cast sang “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” Special credit goes to director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell for making a venue as big as the Bowl, so warm and inviting to the audience that night. I can’t wait to see what show they put on next year.
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