HAIR SPRAY: The Broadway Musical. Book by Mark O’donnell and Thomas Meehan, Music by Marc Shaiman and Lyrics by Scott Wittman/Marc Shaiman. Directed by Scott Denison and Choreographed by Jennifer Perry. Contra Costa Musical Theatre (CCMT), Lesher Center for the Arts,1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA. 925-943-7469 or

March 18 – April 16, 2011.


Contra Costa Musical Theatre’s (CCMT) production of Hairspray is unfair to reviewers. How can one do justice to every member of the cast and production team that is almost perfect and ready for Broadway? There are only three more weekends to catch this show that will surely be a sellout. The energy emanating from the proscenium arch is contagious and be assured you will become another aficionado of 1960s music including rhythm and blues with a big dollop of gospel. You might even want to join the fantastic dancing on stage.

Hairspray is based on the 1988 John Waters film and opened in 2002 on Broadway to rave reviews winning eight Tony awards. Since then it has had a national tour, a London West End production and is still making the rounds of local theatres. The action takes place in 1960s segregated Baltimore. “Full bodied” teenager Tracy dreams of dancing on the local TV The Corny Collins Show. She wins a spot on the show becoming a celebrity and uses her new won status to campaign for racial integration. The adroit writing “integrates” the social implications without preaching creating an incredible entertaining evening.

Victoria Morgan, the titular star of show as Tracy, is glorious with charming personality, a belting voice to match her nimble feet that must keep up with the dancing ensemble. But she has to share the praise with many. Harvey Fierstein stole the Broadway show in the pivotal role as Edna, Tracy's mother. Marcus Klinger as Edna wisely does not imitate Fierstein’s flamboyant style making the role his own and becoming a real winner. He/she stops the shows when it is her/his turn in the spotlight during the charming duet “You’re Timeless to Me” with Jeffery Draper playing husband Wilber.

The inspiration and social injustices within the show never get in the way of the fun. Other actors include local favorite Noel Anthony who gives role the of Corny Collins a dynamic boost with his great tenor voice and ability to shake his hips. The villains of the show are Velma Von Tussle (Lynda DiVito) and daughter Amber (Britt Daniella) who try unsuccessfully to derail Tracy. Tracy’s observation that Amber has “acne of the soul” seems believable even though Britt Daniella is gorgeous and has a wonderful singing voice.

Isaiah Tyrelle as Seaweed J. Stubbs dances up a storm with athleticism matching his excellent vocal range. Emily Trumble’s Penny Pingleton wearing glasses standing knock-keened, shares a fine moment in the trio with Tracy and Amber in “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now.” Her transformation with, glasses off, dressed in a tight dress is amazing. Then there Erica Richardson as Motor Mouth Mabel who brings spontaneous applause with her two turns “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.” Last but not least are The Dynamites (Angel Burgess, Elaine R. Johnson. Lillian Kurtz) who are so good they could move into the lead roles in “Dreamgirls.”

Not enough can be said about the ensemble, choreography (Jennifer Perry), directing (Scott Denison) and musical director (Mark Hanson). The sets and costumes from the Musical Theatre of Wichita, are eye-catching adding another layer of pleasure to this two hour an 30 minute musical extravaganza.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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