Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review of Hairspray at The Paramount Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Hairspray. The book was by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. The music was by Marc Shaiman and the lyrics were by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. It was directed and choreographed by Amber Mak. The music direction was by Tom Vendafreddo. It was based on a film written and directed by John Waters. It was about a girl named Tracy (Amelia Jo Parish) who lived in the 60s. There was a tv show that filmed in Baltimore that she was a really big fan of called The Corny Collins Show. I thought it was kind of funny that his name was Corny (Devin De Santis) because his show was pretty corny! So she decided to go and audition for a spot that had opened up. There is this one girl named Amber (Samantha Pauly) and her mom Velma Von Tussle (Heather Townsend) who don't really seem to like having Tracy on the show, especially because Tracy has a crush on Amber's boyfriend, Link Larkin (Henry McGinniss). But it is not just a romance; it is about people's rights and how you shouldn't be discriminated against because of your size or your race. When she becomes friends with Seaweed J. Stubbs (Gilbert Domally), Tracy decides that she wants equal rights for African Americans and they shouldn't just have one day of every month that they can be on The Corny Collins Show. This show is about integration, love, and how dance and music can bring people together. I really loved this musical. I was really drawn into the story and I thought the music and dancing and acting were great.

I really loved the songs! I loved the way you could just tap your feet along with them. The best song in my opinion was "Good Morning, Baltimore." I've basically memorized that song and I absolutely loved it. I loved how Tracy was such an optimist in this kind of terrible town. Tracy is always kind of an optimist and always tries to make the best of a situation. You don't always want to be moping around about one bad thing; you want to find the good things too. And then she tries to make things better. She tries to make her mom a happier person. She tries to make her dad a happier person. She tries to get the love of her life and she tries to get equal rights for African American people. And she tries to get herself noticed for the things that she is good at. And even in the jail, she tires to get out and she's not pessimistic all the time!

I loved the mother-daughter relationship between Tracy and Edna (Michael Kingston). "Welcome to the Sixties" showed you that they weren't just mother and daughter; they were also friends. It showed you that by how they went shopping together; they weren't just going to buy clothes; they were going to have fun together. Edna was afraid that people would make fun of Tracy, but then she realizes that she shouldn't scare Tracy away from what she wants to do. You get to see that opinion develop over time which I think was super cool.

The dancing was so fun and funky! My two favorite dancing scenes were the scene in the record shop where Seaweed and Little Inez (Ariana Burks) were dancing and singing and everyone was having a really good time ("Run and Tell That") and "The Nicest Kids in Town" when Tracy got onto the Corny Collins show. She just was full of so much joy. It was super fun to watch her, and the other dancers had such big and artificial personalities that each one was kind of one stereotype. I thought that was funny because that was what shows like that, like the Mickey Mouse Club, were like then.

Motormouth Maybelle (E. Faye Butler) sang "I know Where I've Been" and her voice just blew me away. Her voice was so powerful and gorgeous and I really loved that song. She was one of my favorite characters. Another of my favorite characters was Seaweed, the son of Motormouth Maybelle. He was just so outgoing and fun to watch. He was so funny too--I loved a lot of his lines. And he had a crush on Penny (Landree Fleming) who was Tracy's best friend and whose mother was a complete racist. I really like Penny and Seaweed's relationship. They didn't just immediately have a crush on each other. They got to be friends first, and I thought that was good because they usually have love at first sight in these kind of shows.

I enjoyed this show more than Bye Bye Birdie because I felt like it had a better view of teenage girls. They can be boy-crazy. But that is not how everyone is. I feel like they represented teenage girls as people who did go through hard times, but they weren't idiots. They do have power to do what they want and they can impact other teen girls to stop wanting to make themselves sticks and to be happy with how their bodies are. Tracy also has an impact on the entire town because she helps make racism not as popular.

People who would like this show are people who like optimism, dancing, and Baltimore. I think people should definitely go see this show. I had a blast and I loved it!

Photos: Liz Lauren

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