“HAIRSPRAY” EXPLODES IN DIZZYING DELIGHT IN NEW CANAAN


BONNIE GOLDBERG

With a hairdo that looks like it was inflated by a bike tire pump, teenager Tracy Turnblad has a heart big enough to take over the whole world. She recognizes fairness and inequality and would ban prejudice if she had it in her power. When she gets a chance to dance as a regular on the Corny Collins TV Show, she ignores the fact that she doesn't fit the svelte image of the other kids already chosen and dances her Baltimore best.

The 1960's come alive in this sparkling musical comedy "Hairspray" based on the movie by John Waters, and the award-winning show has a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman. Summer Theatre of New Canaan, in a glorious tent, will be injecting energy and enthusiasm until Sunday, August 3 at 11 Farm Road, in Waveny Park (exit 37 off the Merritt).

Even if you don’t have a weekly hair appointment at your local salon, you’re not a certified cosmetologist, you’ve never spent three hours teasing and pouffing your hair into a football helmet-like coif, you’ll still find a lot to love about the musical “Hairspray.” Rebecca Spigelman is a terrific and tremendously talented Tracy Turnblad who may be just a teenager but one on the verge of big-sized discoveries about life.

Tracy and her teen friends, including her BFF Penny, an adorable Sharon Malane, will be dancing their bobby socks off and making their poodle skirts bark and howl. When Tracy, a plump dance queen wannabe, wins a coveted spot on the Corny Collins Show, a local television program, she becomes an overnight sensation. Her adoration for the show's teen heart throb Link Larkin, a hunky Nick Pankuch, puts her in direct competition with the snobby star of the show Caroline Lellouche as the opinionated Amber Von Tussle. Amber with her mom Velma, a manipulative Jodi Stevens Bryce, have been in control of all the goings on and like it that way. Corny Collins, an open-minded Andrew J. Mauney, and the show's sponsor, the owner of Ultra Clutch Hairspray, played by Brian Silliman in a variety of roles, are steam rolled by Velma's bossy attitude. Tracy uses her new fifteen minutes of fame to launch a campaign to allow colored and white students to bogey on the show at the same time, an unheard of reality in 1960’s American society and one that Baltimore is not quickly or easily going to accept. Her friendship with a fellow student Seaweed, a versatile De'Sean Dooley, and his impressive mom Motormouth Maybelle, a charismatic A'lisa Miles, help her mount her platform against prejudice.

All kids should have supportive parents like Tracy, her mom Edna, portrayed with skillful fun by Greg London, and her dad Wilbur, brought to life by a caring Nick Reynolds, are in direct contrast to Penny's worrisome mother who fears everything in her daughter's life, played by KeLeen Snowgren, who also tackles all the female authority figures. Allegra Libonati directs this bursting at the seams happy fest of a show that is stuffed with great songs like "Good Morning, Baltimore," "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now," "I Can Hear the Bells" and "You Can Hear the Beat." The Dynamites, Melissa Victor, Tatianna Mott and Darilyn Steele, dazzle whenever they sing and dance.

For tickets ($39 and up, seniors are $25 in advance and $30 at the door), call 203-966-4634 or online at stonc.tix.com. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. In this their 11th season, Summer Theatre of New Canaan has a full plate of special offerings, including a trio of plays for children: Merrilee Mannerly from now to July 19, Little Mermaid Jr. from now until August 3 and Charlotte's Web from July 12 to August 3 on weekends, with tickets $20 and up.  On Saturday, July 28 a Special Benefit Concert, A Night of Stars, will feature Broadway hits as well as a pre-show reception, a live auction and a post- concert reception, with tickets starting at $30 for the show and $100 for the entire evening.

In addition on Tuesday and/or Wednesdays evenings, new musicals will be launched about everyone from Ben Franklin to Helen Keller with tickets $25-40. Take a chance on being at the cutting edge of excitement.

Follow this enthusiastic and principled girl as she questions the rules and is willing to risk everything, even being imprisoned, for her beliefs. With the help of her parents and her best friends, Tracy inspires a conga line of loyal followers as she makes all her dreams come true.

Let your hair down or bouffant it up, your choice, as you cha-cha to New Canaan for a turn around the dance floor with that most trustworthy and talented teen Tracy Turnblad.

 

* Contact Us * Designed by Rokoco Designs * © 2008 CCC *
CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE