John Waters, writer and director of Hairspray, in speaking to the audience at the Music Center at Strathmore, said “Boy, a white fat girl fights for integration. That was a good idea I had!”
Indeed it was a good idea that John Waters had. Since the original film premiered in 1988, Hairspray has been adapted into a Tony Award Winning Broadway musical in 2002, and a subsequent second film version based off of the stage musical, released in 2007.
This event is not to be missed!
Fans of Hairspray will be pleased to know that on December 7, 2016, a live version, called Hairspray Live! will air on NBC, starring Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Harvey Fierstein as Edna, and Martin Short as Wilbur.
The biggest production of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Centennial season, Hairspray: In Concert features Jack Everly as Music Director and Conductor, John Waters as the Narrator and Writer, and a large, talented cast. At this concert version, you can expect to see the performers singing and dancing to all of the songs in full costume (designed by Clare Henkel) and performing most of the dialog.
Directed and Choreographed by Jennifer Ladner, Hairspray: In Concert revolves around a “pleasantly plump” teenager named Tracy Turnblad (Played by a perky Laura Marie Rondinella) who dreams of becoming famous and fights to racially integrate The Corny Collins Show in 1962 Baltimore.
As the producer of The Corny Collins Show, Velma Von Tussle (Beth Leavel) pushes her daughter, Amber (Kirsten Scott) to seek the stardom that she never had. In “Miss Baltimore Crabs,” Velma is auditioning new dancers for the show while bragging how she so cunningly clinched the title of Miss Baltimore Crab. Skipping school to attend the dance auditions, Tracy was quickly harassed by Velma for being “too short and stout.”
George Wendt, best known for his portrayal of Norm Peterson in the TV sitcom Cheers, guest stars as Wilbur Turnblad, owner of the Har-De-Har Hut Joke Shop and father of Tracy and husband of Edna. Mr. Wendt’s large stature and even bigger smile helps to make his character a believable father who lovingly supports his wife and daughter as they go through adventures that lead them to appear on The Corny Collins Show, a visit to Motormouth Maybelle’s record shop, and even a trip to jail.
Paul Vogt carries much of the weight of the show as Edna Turnblad, a mother who is busy running a laundry business out of her home. Mr. Vogt is OUTSTANDING as Edna Turnblad! So in tune with his funny, and sometimes tenderhearted character, I didn’t see him as a man in drag, I saw him as a real mother and wife from Baltimore. Speaking of being “in tune,” Paul Vogt also has a terrific singing voice that is as large and as colorful as the dresses that he wears.
Beth Leavel, who plays the role of Velma von Tussle, gained notoriety in 2006 when she received the Tony, Drama Desk, NY Outer Critics Circle, and L.A. Drama Critics awards for the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone. In her performance as the villainess Velma von Tussle, Beth Leavel is an expert at exuding evil, all while creating comedic moments. Her superb vocals as well as her crab-like gestures on “Miss Baltimore Crabs” will send chills up your spine.
The strong cast also includes, Julie Kavanagh as the dorky best friend of Tracy, Penny Pingleton; Matthew Scott as the teenage heartthrob, Link Larkin who falls in love with Tracy; NaTasha Yvette Williams as the “big, blonde and beautiful” host of “Negro Day” on The Corny Collins Show, Motormouth Maybelle; Stephen Scott Wormley as Seaweed J. Stubs, the son of Motorbouth Maybelle who falls in love with Penny; Susie Mosher as Female Authority Figure, Jaylan Simmons as Little Inez, Aaron Fuksa as Male Authority Figure, and Ron Remke as Corny Collins.
To the delight of the audience, N’Kenge, Natalie Renee, and Kara-Tameika Watkins make a special appearance as The Dynamites, a group formed by three women that sing on “Negro Day” on The Corny Collins Show. Their beautiful voices, sensual dance moves, and sparkling smiles, add a special burst of energy to the stage.
The hummable tunes by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (the same composer’s from TV’s hit show, SMASH) will leave you singing “You Can’t Stop the Beat” for at least three weeks after watching this concert! Other memorable songs like “I Can Hear the Bells,” “Welcome to the 60’s,” “I Know Where I’ve Been, ” and “You’re Timeless to Me” sound especially good with the sweet sounds of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and students from the Baltimore School for the Arts serving as the chorus.
Hairspray: In Concert is a unique opportunity to see writer and director John Waters in person serving as the Narrator. His brand of humor will keep you smiling as he moves the story forward. Come and see what surprises he has in store. This event is not to be missed!
So Hon, leave those dirty dishes in the “zinc,” “worsh” your face with some “wooter,” and drive on over to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to see the BSO’s beehive hair-raising production of Hairspray: In Concert before the beat stops June 5th!
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.
Hairspray: In Concert was a one night event at Strathmore but continues its production through June 5th at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201. For more information on upcoming BSO concerts and tickets, go to the website or call 410-783-8000.