HAIRSPRAY Bids You Welcome to the 60's!

Published: Friday, May 4, 2012 7:00 am By: James F. Cotter Source: Times Herald Record

HAIRSPRAY

BY JAMES F. COTTER

For the Times Herald-Record

ELMSFORD – “Hairspray” bids you “Welcome to the 60s” in the
person of Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore teenager who dreams of finding fame on a
TV dance program and with the help of some steps learned from African-American
friends at school ends up integrating the show and starring in it.  The musical
began as a 1988 movie by John Waters and became a Broadway 2002 Tony Award
winner with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, and book
by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan.

    Westchester Broadway Theatre is staging a rockin’ rhythm
and blues revival directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford with musical
direction by Leo P. Carusone.  From “Good Morning, Baltimore” to “You Can’t Stop
the Beat,” the beat goes on with a lively pop and rhythmic score that shifts
from scene to scene without missing a beat.  Set and costumes designed by
Michael Bottari and Ron Case capture the look and feel of the 60s, and Gerard
Kelly’s wig and hair design recalls the obsession of the era with puffed up hair
styles.

    Erin McCracken is the short and stout and unstoppable
Tracy who as Miss Teenage Hairspray leads a cast of 25 actors, singers and
dancers in a super-charged, energy-packed nostalgic trip to the past.  She
protests, “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” and sure enough, there is Tracy’s mom,
Edna, played as always in drag, in the person of Tad Wilson who tells her
daughter she should stay at home.  Tracy of course does not and Mama ends up
being her agent after a hilarious make-over of scarlet dress, wig and high
heels.  Tracy’s dad Wilbur, played by Bruce Rebold, runs a joke-shop and
supports Tracy from the start.  The parents sum up their affection for one
another with a tender “Timeless to Me.”

    Tracy’s competition for the Corny Collins Show, Amber Von
Tussle is portrayed by Kara Dombowski as a conniving, untalented teen who is
driven by her mother Velma, the show’s racist producer, to prevent Tracy from
even participating in the dance program.  Ann Van Cleave embodies the villain at
every turn, putting Tracy down with “(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs.”  As
Tracy’s friend Penny, Stacie Gogo comes through at crucial moments with her
sympathy and loyalty.  Corny Collins who leads the TV show is played by Pat
McRoberts as an upbeat dance leader with an eye for talent and self-promotion as
he declares in the opening number, “The Nicest Kids in Town.”

    Tracy’s love interest is Link Larkin, popular heartthrob
of the program who immediately takes up with her and stays at her side when
Velma throws up obstacles like keeping Tracy