HAIRSPRAY Has Something For Everyone

Published: Monday, May 7, 2012 7:00 am By: William Reynolds Source: Rockland Lifestyle
  The new musical, Hairspray, currently playing at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, has something for everyone.  It is a light-hearted story that tackles some very serious issues.  It validates the concept that if one perseveres long enough, success will be met.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.  And, reminds us all, that we are equal, regardless of skin color.
   The musical's road to Broadway was a long and winding one.  It began as a cult film by John Waters in 1988, with Rikki Lake in the title role of the pleasingly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad.  The late drag queen, Divine, played her mother. Rounding out the cast in supporting roles were the late Sonny Bono and comedic legend Jerry Stiller.   Some 14 years would go by, before this delightfully innovative musical hit the Great White Way.  And, when it did, it was a smash hit, with both critics and mainstream audiences flocking to see the story of a Baltimore teenage girl whose dream was to appear on the Corny Collins Show, a local version of 'American Bandstand.'  The show won eight Tony Awards including best musical, book, score and direction.  The show's leading actors Marissa Jaret Winokur (Best Leading Actress in a Musical), Harvey Fierstein as Mama Edna (Best Leading Actor in a Musical) and Dick Latessa, who played Papa Wilbur Turnblad (Best Featured actor in a Musical) were also bestowed Tony Awards for their performances.
   The musical ran on Broadway from 2002 - 2009. In 2007, Hairspray
was made into a movie with superstar John Travolta stepping into Edna's very large high heeled shoes. In the WBT production, Erin McCracken (Tracy), Tad Wilson (Edna) and Bruce Ribold (Wilbur) play the Turnblads, a working class family in 1962 Baltimore.  McCracken embodies the wide-eyed optimism of the dreamy eyed teenager who aspires to audition for the Corny Collins Show.  The larger than life Edna (Wilson) loves her daughter, encourages her but, deep down, knows that life does not offer any guarantees, and does not want to see her daughter hurt in any way.  The milquetoast, hen-pecked Wilbur genuinely loves his family, and is all too eager to see that his daughter's fondest dreams are realized.
     The supporting cast is expertly led by Ann Van Cleave, who as Velma Von Tussle, wishes nothing more than to see her daughter, Amber (Kara Dombrowski) follow in her footsteps.  Velma was once 'Miss Baltimore Crab,' and does everything in her power to make Amber a star on the Corny Collins show and for her daughter to win the win the coveted crown of Miss Hairspray of 1962.  Audiences of current shows such as American Idol