Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hormones, Pomps, & Hairspray

[Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. Photo by Phil Martin.]


[The cast of Hairspray performing "You Can't Stop The Beat."]

I have an affinity for 60’s culture. The classic cars, the James Dean pomp hair, the choreographed dancing, the amazing music… it was just a golden era. The minute the curtain raised at the Orange County Performing Arts Center last night for the opening night of the Broadway hit musical Hairspray, I felt like I had been transported back in time 50 years to that great era I wish I’d been born into.  

[Tracy Turnblad and Link Larkin. Photo by Phil Martin.]

Words can’t even begin to describe the fun that ensued from then on. Sure, I am a lover of musicals myself, being raised on them from a wee lass by my mother. But I wasn’t the only one in the audience ready to jump on stage to join in the number. I noticed a tattooed 20-something (dragged there by his girlfriend no doubt) bobbing his head to the beat and even laughing unapologetically. His demeanor entering the theater was a complete 180 by the intermission. He was turned to his girlfriend rehearsing the funniest lines and debating his favorite numbers. 

[The cast of Hairspray performing "Without Love." Photo by Phil Martin.]

Behind me, a similar situation; this time a very classy middle aged woman and her unwilling husband. After hearing a few Oh-my-goodnesses followed by uncontrollable giggling, being a bit of an amateur sociologist and having an interest in people in general, I turned around to see the face of the man who was so enjoying the show. The smiling face was that of the very man who moments earlier had been wondering how soon he could get home to catch the end of the Ducks Kings game. From teens to adults, experienced theater goers to unwilling dates – not a person in the house didn’t have a foot tapping and an ache in their smile muscles by intermission. The dance numbers were amazing. The songs were sung with precision and gusto. The jokes were met by a sea of laughter. The sets were incredible. The show went off without a hitch. Even when the actors portraying Mr. and Mrs. Turnblad began to laugh at their own joke, barely able to recover as the audience roared with laughter, I can guarantee you that the scene was funnier with the slip than it would have been done to the script.

[Seaweed showing off his stellar moves. Photo by Chris Bennion.]

[The Corny Collins Show set with the cast of Hairspray. Photo by Chris Bennion.]

Since I have already spent two paragraphs just trying to introduce this musical marvel and have yet to even scratch the surface of the brilliance of Hairspray, I will bore you no longer with my long speeches and just say, GO. SEE. IT. Below is a bulleted list of some more reasons why.

  • All you parents get to take a trip down memory lane to the years when you were young.
  • All you kids to 30-somethings get to experience that golden era you missed out on.
  • Comical references to the era like this one:
Dad: Quick! Turn on the tv!
Mom: Oh, has Kruschev taken off his shoes again?!
  • Hilarious innuendos.
  • An eclectic cast of characters that range from an overweight mother who’s about 7-feet tall with a voice like Darth Vader, to a young hot shot Elvis look-a-like with a voice as clear as a bell and hips that don’t lie, to a sexually frustrated gym teacher.
  • Amazing dance numbers. I’ll definitely be learning the Madison and the Pony to bust out at Club M in Laguna!
  • Incredibly handsome men with dance skills AND amazing James Dean/Elvis greased/pomped hair.
  • Amazing songs like my personal favorites: “Run and Tell That,” “Miss Baltimore,” “It Takes Two,” and “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”
  • Getting to see local rising star Teanna Berry in her role as Peaches, one of the glamorous “sizzling girl group” tear up the stage to an audience including cheering family and friends.
  • An impromptu dance party to end the show in which the audience breaks it down with the cast.

[OC Native and Hairspray cast member, Teanna Berry.]


We got to talk with Teanna Berry about her homecoming and how it's been on tour with the Tony and Grammy award-winning musical Hairspray:

1. What’s it like to be performing on the big stage in your hometown? It feels amazing. I performed at OCPAC as a teenager, and I always hoped I would have the privilege of playing this beautiful venue in my adult years, and I am! Most of all, I'm excited that my family won't have to travel too far to see me.

2. What does it feel like to be cast as Peaches, part of the show’s ‘sizzling girl group’? It feels very glamorous. I feel like a showgirl.

3. What’s your favorite number in the show? My favorite number has to be the opening "Good Morning Baltimore". I get a rush seeing the audience for the first time every night.

4. Favorite memory so far from being on tour? My favorite memory has to be opening night. It was a dream come true.

5. Favorite musical? Chicago.

6. What do you love most about Orange County? My family is here and the beautiful weather doesn't hurt either.

7. What’s in store next for you? I'll be spending a couple of months with my family and then moving back to NY to get back on the audition scene.


Orange County Performing Arts Center – Segerstrom Hall
April 6 – 11, 2010

Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.

The 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, April 10 will be sign-language interpreted. 

Orange County Performing Arts Center – Segerstrom Hall
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

Tickets:            Start at $20

In person -       The Center Box Office
                        600 Town Center Drive
                        Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                        Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
Online -  
Phone -            714.556.2787
                        Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily
TTY number -   714.556.2746
Group Services - 714.755.0236


I will end this lengthy blog of praise with a brief blurb from my co-worker, Jennifer Hood, who attended the show with me as my date. She was so enthusiastic about you guys seeing it that she insisted on giving her two cents:

Hairspray threatened to half-impress me based on my biased opinion formed almost solely by watching in cringed-awe as John Travolta paraded around the movie rendition in a wig with a matching pair of twins. But I repent! Throw me the sackcloth and pass the ashes. The National Tour of Hairspray that blew in and boogied across the OCPAC stage blew my mind. From opening to close, I knew my prejudice against the play was a big mistake. The show is hilariously caricaturist. The syrupy sweet “nice kids” break out in guffaw-worthy hormonal pubescent outbursts while the crazy cool negro kids give the floor a beating with their insanely rad moves. The stage sets and costumes are vivid and severe, with angles and colors reflecting a post-atomic 1960s era. The music is insanely catchy and viral. Vocally, the cast is sinless. You’ll want to jump Link Larkin like you wanted to jump Davy Jones back in the day. Watching Seaweed cut a rug while saving your soul with his song is transformational. These up-and-coming kids (most of them in their 20s) will make you wonder what your kids are doing with their lives, and regret what you did with your life. But it won’t matter when Link rolls into his solo melt-worthy croon of “It Takes Two.” You’ll forget everything except his popping Elvis hips and mile-high greaser pomp. You’ll like it. The musical that is. And not just you, ladies. The fellas in the audience were trying to hide their smiles but eventually surrendered to genuine enjoyment and laughter at an absurd and hooky musical. You can’t not like it. It’s like listening to Enrique Eglasias. You want to stop, but the rhythm of the music wont let you.  Be there or be a “Commie.”  

Couldn't have said it better myself.

- Amy
On my iTunes: "It Takes Two" from Hairspray

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