Sunday, January 23, 2005

We Went to See Hairspray Friday Night

Hairspray Autographs for Ruth
Originally uploaded by baslow.
The whole family went to see Hairspray last Friday night. The kids had seen it, albeit standing at the back of the theater, once before. It was the first time for Bev and me.

My friend Julie Halston (whom I've known since my college days at Hofstra University) has stepped into the roles previously played by Jackie Hoffman, Prudy Pingleton, Gym Teacher and Prison Matron. Sabrina Reitman, with whom the kids had participated in some Pied Piper Children't Theater productions, had stepped into the role of Little Inez. They both did remarkable jobs, as did the whole cast.

The show is a high-energy singing, dancing, comedy experience from the opening to the very last note. The night was quite a cold one; New York was getting ready for the blizzard to come. You wouldn't have been able to tell in the Neil Simon Theater, however. Everyone turned in hot, high-voltage performances.

Shannon Durig substituted for Carly Jibson as Tracy Turnblad. She made the most of the opportunity throughout her performance, singing and dancing her heart out. Bruce Vilanch, as Edna Turnblad was simply hilarious. Mary Bond Davis, as Motormouth Maybelle, riveted the audience several times in the course of the evening. Chester Gregory II, as Seaweed Stubbs, was terrific. Todd Sussman, as Wilbur Turnblad, had a genial, loopy, slightly off-kilter delivery that very effectively led into his number with Edna, "Timeless to Me" and provided and effective counterbalance to the antics going on all around him. Tracy Miller, as Penny Pingleton, was a hoot and a half, all awkard gestures and dim-bulb delivery that make it all the more satisfying (and funny) when her light begins to shine.

Julie was marvelous. She was prudish (and discreetly racist) as Prudy, butch as the gym teacher, and no-nonsense tough-cookie as the prison matron. She was very, very funny as all three.

Sabrina Reitman was a wonder. She is (or will soon be ) eleven years old but she has the delivery (and the pipes!) of a twenty-one year old. She danced and sang up a storm, holding her own with the older performers and taking her turn in the spotlight like a star.

We got to talk to Julie and Sabrina backstage after the show although I was in a state of near-speehlessness, still coming down from the high of the performance. We talked about Hairspray all the way home.

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