HAIRSPRAY -- Too Many Messages
By Bob and Karen Isaacs
BOB: Hairspray in it’s original film or current Broadway musical existence is not my favorite bit of entertainment BUT in the production at Ivoryton Playhouse I have to admit I enjoyed it very much.
KAREN: I am glad you have begun to see the fun elements of this show, though I have some quibbles with director Jackie Hubbard.
BOB: The problem for me with the show is that it seems to try to touch on too many social issues and thus seems to be too disjointed.
KAREN: In case you don’t remember the show -- which was also a musical film -- it is about Tracey Turnblad, an overweight teenage girl in Baltimore in 1962 who is obsessed with the local TV dance show. She wants to get on the show and is rejected because of her size, but she takes up the cause of integrating the show and various complications follow until her ultimate triumph.
BOB: The performances are genuinely very good, but it seems that the director Jackie Hubbard sacrificed some of the comedy in the show to emphasize the social issues. Involved.
KAREN: I agree with you -- I saw the original Broadway production and the film -- many of the laughs in those two were not here at Ivoryton. It seems that instead of being larger than life -- Tracey’s teased hairdo should stand at least 4 inches or more -- it has all been toned down.
BOB: In the central role, Jill Sullivan is terrific. She exudes the hopefulness of the character and the joy of success when things turn out positively. She has a wonderful sidekick in her friend, Penny, played by Abby Hart, who goes from frumpy to a rocker. There are many excellent interpretations in the show, but as usual it is stolen by Tracey’s mother Edna. It was played on Broadway by Harvey Fierstein, but here Michael Barra brings exuberance to the role. You will particularly love Edna in the duet with her husband, played by Neal Mayer -- “Your Timeless to Me.”
KAREN: We can’t forget Karen Anderson who plays Motormouth Maybell -- but the entire cast is excellent.
BOB: You will enjoy this production -- it is energetic and fun though this production takes itself a little too seriously.
KAREN: Hairspray is at Ivoryton Playhouse to July 29.
This review ran on WNHU 88.7FM and www.wnhu.net.