Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Hairspray" Opens Tomorrow at Community Players

John Waters, the creative mind behind the 1988 film "Hairspray," is a fairly twisted individual. Not in a bad way. Unless the "bad" refers to "bad taste," which is pretty much a John Waters trademark. And Waters' way is more of a "he marches to his own drummer and the majorette is probably in drag and smoking a cigarette" kind of way.

The movie "Hairspray" was a cult classic, with the divine Divine (real name: Harris Glen Milstead) as frumpy, middle-aged Edna Turnblad, mother of Tracy Turnblad, who may be a little chubby, but is just as good a dancer as any teen around her in 1960s Baltimore. Tracy yearns to dance on the Corny Collins Show, a sort of American Bandstand for Baltimore. She has the right beehive hairdo, laden down with hairspray from the show's sponsor, but she doesn't look like a skinny blonde beauty queen, and some of her friends are black. The black kids are even less welcome on TV than Tracy is. Well, they do get to dance once day a week. On "Negro Day." Charming, huh?

Before you can say "civil disobedience," Tracy and her friends are pushing the Corny Collins Show to the limit, trying to get equal access for anybody of any race, color, creed or waist size, shoving aside pretty, spoiled princess Amber van Tussle and her evil mother Velma, for the spotlight.

The movie version was more cynical and edgy than the 2002 Broadway musical version, which added more bright, danceable pop tunes from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and an updated, more mainstream book from Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Harvey Fierstein led the cast as Edna Turnblad, with Marissa Jaret Winokur as Tracy, Dick Latessa as Edna's sweet, loyal husband Wilbur, and Matthew Morrison (now the teacher on "Glee') as heartthrob Link Larkin.

"Hairspray," the Broadway musical, took home eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor (for Fierstein), Best Actress (Winokur) and Best Featured Actor (Latessa).

A movie version of the stage musical followed with John Travolta as Edna.

Community Players brings "Hairspray," the Broadway musical, to its Robinhood Lane theater tomorrow night, with Alan Wilson directing a cast that includes Scott Myers as Edna, Kelly Slater as Tracy, Mark Robinson as Wilbur, Jeremy Pease as Link Larkin, Melissa Mullin as Tracy's friend Penny, Gerald Price as Penny's beau Seaweed, Wendy Fleming and Mary Francis Leake as Mother and Daughter van Tussle, and Jennifer Rusk as Motormouth Maybelle, who brings the house down with an anthem called "I Know Where I've Been."

If you'd like to see video of an interview with director Alan Wilson and his Tracy, Kelly Slater, on WEEK's "Good Company," click here.

After tomorrow's preview, performances continue May 11-12, 17-20 and 24-27, 2012.  Ticket prices range from $15 for adults to $13 for seniors and students and $6 for children. Click here to by tickets online.

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