Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of South Pacific
If last year's Spamalot seemed a huge leap forward in terms of sheer size, Hairspray adds six cast members to the 16 last year. The production is beautifully designed in vivid blues and pinks by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay with fine costumes by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case. Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford the show seems to never stop dancing its way through 1960s Baltimore. Music director David Truskinoff and his band of four manage to sound like eight or ten. They keep the songs, very derivative of '50s and '60s doo-wop and bubble gum rock, zippy as they need to be. Fine sound design by Ryan Kilcourse enables an audience that maybe is not familiar with the lyrics (definitely not me) to understand most of it, not an easy task. For a small regional theater company, this production is quite an accomplishment.
Brooke Shapiro dominates the proceedings as Tracy. Although many teenage girls fantasize about playing the role, few can dance, dance, and dance some more for 2-1/2 hours and still be able to belt most of score. Ms. Shapiro does all this and more. I have seen at least one Tracy in a professional production who was nowhere near as good as this. Greg London as Tracy's mother Edna does fine work, handling both the comedy and real emotions equally well. D.C. Anderson completes the family; he and Mr. London stop the show in their second act duet "Timeless to Me." In supporting roles, Dane Becker as Link Larkin, Patrick Connaghan as Corny Collins, Jennifer Fouché as Motormouth Maybelle, Sarah Joy Ledtke and Alaina Mills as mother and daughter Velma and Amber Von Tussle, and Lindsay Nantz as Penny Pingleton fill out a very fine company.
Hairspray as presented by Florida Studio Theatre is certainly the happiest musical currently in town, a great big Christmas present!
Florida Studio Theatre presents Hairspray through January 4, 2015, at The Gompertz Theater, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.
Director and Choreographer: Richard Stafford