Hairspray Actors Highlight the 60s

April 14, 2022

Hairspray Actors Highlight the 60s and Reignite The Power of the Doo-wop  

Hairspray is a good-hearted, romantic comedy that preserves the spirit of Water’s 1988 movie, which took jabs at the squares who tried to keep society in a thin, white box. Yet, while the movie, and musical, took on the issues of an era, it’s the music, clothing, and drag characters that place a bright, shiny light on entertainment. 

Directed by Jack O’Brien and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, Hairspray brings a dynamic cast to the stage, whose performance leaves enough credit to go around.  

Mitchell, who choreographed Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, The Full Monty, and Catch Me If You Can, creates an invigorating doo-wop filled with all of the 60s classics, and a few of the busts. Drawing on his surplus of experience, Mitchell answers to the calling of theatre, blending his award-winning style with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s impeccable lyrics and tunes that have been known to lift people out of their chairs and onto their feet. 

But we can’t get into the flawless conviction of the musical, without diving into the lively young cast who puts the theatrics back in the theatre. 

Niki Metcalk, who plays Tracy Turnblad, and Emery Henderson, who plays Penny Pinkerton, pour their vocals and hips into the optimistic story about teenagers looking to improve the future. Turnblad, who dreams of dancing on “The Corny Collins Show” is a ball of energy that unintentionally puts herself and others in ‘hot water.’ The audience obtains its first look at this dynamic when Penny’s mother refuses to let her watch the city’s teeny-boppers dance show, only to have Turnblad eventually bring her on air. 

But, it’s Andrew Levit, also known as Nina West, the drag queen who performed on RuPaul’s Drag Race and other performances across the country, who plays Tracy’s mother Eva, that just might steal the show. While Edna’s character has always been played by a man, which included Harvey Fierstein, also known as Divine, in 1988 and then John Travolta in 2007, Levit gives it the proper female zest and motherly care we all know and love. 

Levit touches on Edna’s lack of self-esteem, due to her physical size, which has kept her inside the house hiding behind her ironing business. In the end, it’s the audience who gets a bird’s eye view as Tracy works to bring her mother out of her shell and into the world that’s embracing change. 

 A triumph of youth and culture, the actors behind Hairspray deliver sincerity, ingenuity, and an all-out dance party complete with special effects and fantastic beehives. Think you know the story? These actors are ready to show everyone: you ain’t seen ‘nothing yet.    

Interested in a night of Do-whop? Purchase tickets, call 315-624-9444, or visit their box office at 258 Genesee Street in Utica. 

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