Welcome to the 60s! Big hair, bright colors, and dancing abound as social change starts to sweep Baltimore. Rockville Musical Theatre brings community theatre to new heights with “Hairspray,” the perfect show for summer fun with the whole family.
Based on the 1988 film by John Waters, “Hairspray” is the story of Tracy Turnblad, a plus-size teenager with dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, though her reality looks more like daily detention. But when Tracy gets a shot at fame, she begins to fight against the barriers of representation present in the television industry of 1962. With a 2003 Broadway opening, “Hairspray’s” catchy songs and uplifting message are beloved, encapsulating the fighting spirit of a girl who won’t give up.
Caitlin Grant has a star turn as Tracy, finding her groove in “Good Morning Baltimore” and only increasing in momentum from there. Grant easily navigates the pop-influenced score with vocals that range from sweet to knock-your-socks-off. Strong in every respect of the word, she refuses to be bullied into silencing herself or minimizing her inner light. Contrasting Grant’s power with nervous energy, Bailey Wolf plays perpetual sidekick Penny Pingleton, who rebels against her stuffy mother (Pamela Northrup) to be with Seaweed J. Stubbs, played by the charming Christopher Polio. Wolf wowed in the closing number, disposing of her chewing gum to belt out a rousing verse of “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
…the perfect show for summer fun with the whole family.
Larger-than-life supporting characters populated the Baltimore streets with infectious energy, from Jim Adams’s heartfelt drag performance as Edna Turnblad to Derek Tatum’s portrayal of the preening teen idol Link Larkin. Tami Howie and Kendall Sigman make for a formidably blonde mother-daughter duo as Velma and Amber Von Tussle, a pair of old-school mean girls dedicated to maintaining the status quo, however discriminatory it may be. The soul of the show, however, belonged to Motormouth Maybelle (Danielle Harrow) and her record store. At its core, Hairspray is a story about the civil rights movement, and Harrow’s powerful message of acceptance and perseverance shines through in the eleven o’clock anthem “I Know Where I’ve Been.”
Director T.J. Lukacsina strikes a balance between whimsicality and realism with “Hairspray” that perfectly matches the tone of the show. The colorful set transforms to bring audiences all around the city in a heartbeat, while other pieces, like a school bus or a jail cell, utilize the imagination to animate the action. Upbeat choreography by Rikki Lacewell encapsulates the 60s vibe of the show while diversifying styles between character groups, resulting in numbers that are simply fun to watch.
With a high-energy cast of talented performers, Rockville Musical Theatre’s “Hairspray” will have audiences dancing in their seats.
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.
“Hairspray” runs through July 20th at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851. To purchase tickets, call 240-314-8690 or go online here.