The message of inclusion is at the core of the musical
I have never seen Hairspray live on stage. I have only seen the original John Waters film, a remake of the film, and a live TV version. I’ve seen this fun and fresh take on a classic with new eyes as I had no other stage shows to compare it to. I have a new love for Hairspray, having now seen it live on stage because, for me, there is nothing like seeing it live on stage. I am fortunate that I was able to see it with the current cast that empowers this show.
The cast of the show at the Miller Theatre in Philadelphia was phenomenal. The lead role of Tracy Turnblad, the full-figured teenager who just wants to be on a local TV dance show, was portrayed by Niki Metcalf. From her initial appearance getting out of bed and performing “Good Morning Baltimore,” she draws you in with her adorable voice and playfulness (much like you would expect of a teenager).
Another standout performance is the character of Tracy’s mother, Edna, an “apple doesn’t fall far from the trees” version of her daughter. This role was originated by Harvey Fierstein, whose brilliant performance helped pave the way for all future Edna’s to be played by a drag queen.
Edna is portrayed by Andrew Levitt, a standout of Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. His hilarious portrayal and physical stature are a joy to watch him in women’s clothes, and the stage chemistry between him and Tracy, as well as with Edna’s husband, Wilbur (Christopher Swan), is a touching image of familial love support, and understanding. Edna and Wilbur show you that romance can be timeless. Nobody can wear a moo-moo quite like Levitt, and he exudes so much talent. His duet of “You’re Timeless to Me” is timeless. That’s how good it was.
A huge shout to Billy Dawson, who plays Corny Collins, emulating a young, sexy Dick Clark. He keeps you saying to yourself, “I see you, Billy. I see you.” Dawson is very charismatic in the role. Another shout-out goes to Will Savarese as stud Link Larkin for giving depth into what sometimes is played as a one-dimensional character. His singing of “It Takes Two” with Metcalf is a definite highlight.
The rest of the cast is uniformly tight, performing Jerry Mitchell’s original choreography set for this tour by Michele Lynch. The choreography was on point. “You Can’t Stop the Beat” has all the energy you remember it having and sends you out of the theatre singing the song on repeat.
I encourage you to see the current tour of Hairspray. There is an amazing talent, and the show delivers a great message in between all the fun music. If you never seen Hairspray live on stage, then please do so. If you have already seen it, then go again. I promise that you will hear the bells for the first time or again.
Hairspray is currently on tour throughout the country. Find out more and purchase tickets for upcoming shows here.