Last Chance to Get 'Hairsprayed'!

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:00 pm By: Veronica Decker Source: Noprth County News

The press surrounding the death of legendary television personality Dick Clark April 18, 2012 focused heavily on an annual hosting engagement: Mr. Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve became that evening’s standard programming, and his absence in Times Square this January is already felt.

But when news of Mr. Clark’s passing graced my Facebook News Feed (I somewhat shamefully admit), my mind immediately flashed to black-and-white images of a clean-cut young man in a trim-fitting suit. To me, “Dick Clark” rings synonymous with American Bandstand, the MTV of my mother’s generation that I wish I knew. And thanks to a recent evening at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, I was not only exposed to the pop-culture of the 60s; I was welcomed.

Enter Hairspray, Westchester Broadway Theater’s 174th production that runs through June 3 at the area's only dinner theatre, in Elmsford.

Based on the 1987 film starring Ricki Lake, Hairspray sings the story of Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore teenager of the early 60s with a slightly larger physique and even larger hair. “When [Tracy] starts to dance, [she’s] a movie star,” and she longs for nothing more than to dance as a regular on The Corny Collins Show (a play on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand). But Tracy’s size and open heart pose a threat to the small waists and smaller minds of her contemporaries. Can our heroine break the social barriers meant to keep those who are “different” in their place?

With this cast, almost anything is possible. Erin McCracken’s energy, animation, winning smile, and powerful belt proved the perfect fit for her second turn as protagonist Tracy. Tad Wilson (Edna Turnblad) clearly brought a bit of Broadway magic with him for his second stint in heels (he recently appeared in Rock of Ages, Bonnie & Clyde, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in New York), as did White Way regular Ann Van Cleave (Velma Von Tussle) of Ragtime, Fiddler on the Roof, and Beauty and the Beast to name a few. Inga Ballard’s (Motormouth Maybelle) “I Know Where I’ve Been” sent chills up my arms, while Pat McRoberts’ (Corny Collins) power notes soared effortlessly from his handsome frame.

Director and Choreographer Richard Stafford did a fine job adapting the Tony-award-winning musical for a thrust space, making use of the aisles and patron-proximity to fully submerge the audience in Hairspray’s