By Anjulie Van Sickle
“Hairspray,” the college’s first production that included a complete collaboration between the drama, music and dance departments, opened on April 19 to cheers of appreciation.
The musical is set in 1962 in Baltimore, where Tracy Turnblad, played superbly by Lindsey Yarborough, is a teenage girl ready to change and desegregate the world by dancing. Throughout the musical, she sings and dances around the city with her best friend, Penny Pingleton, played by Hannah Smith. Eventually, she earns a spot on the popular “Corny Collins Show.”
Through her determination and with help from some friends, Tracy is able to successfully integrate black and white dancers in the previously all-white television show. She even steals the title of Miss Teenage Baltimore from her arch enemy, Amber Von Tussle, played by Kelsey Kruse, despite being constantly teased for her weight.
Like all teenage girls, Penny, Tracy and Amber butt heads with their mothers.
The chemistry the three actresses brought to stage while singing “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” was dynamic.
Their presence on the stage was powerful and the audience loved them.
The casting by director Dusty Reasons was well executed. Yarborough was cast perfectly for the lead because of the way she was able to embrace the character and truly express Tracy’s confidence.
The cast was filled with an array of talent that displayed rich vocals, skilled acting and convincing chemistry.
Rebecca Stenberg, who portrayed the primary antagonist, Velma Von Tussle, with her sassy attitude and strong voice, was great at being bad.
The two starry-eyed lovers, Tracy and Link Larkin, played by Lucas Haupert, danced and sang around the stage like they were made for each other. Their performance of “I Can Hear the Bells” was very emotional.
Samuel Gallindo and Kenneth Fulenwider gave strong performances as Wilbur and Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s parents. Gallindo nailed the part of the silly but sincere father. Fulenwider not only succeeded in playing drag, but also in strutting around the stage in 4-inch heels.
Other standouts included 13-year-old Michaela Jones as Little Inez. Her dance moves and amazing voice took me by surprise.
DeAndre Upshaw, who played Seaweed, captivated the audience with his smooth dance moves as well as his deep and powerful voice.
Keturah Jones took the stage for the first time for her role as Motormouth Maybelle. Her acting was exquisite, and her voice left the crowd wanting more.
Not only did the cast deliver on the stage, their roles took them out into the audience. On many of the numbers, the ensemble would stand in the crowd and accompany those singing on stage.
The set and costume designs were also impressive. It was as if the audience was transported back in time to 1960s Baltimore. The ’60s-inspired dresses worn by the cast enhanced the authenticity of the performance. The bright colors and fancy skirts kept me captivated.
At the closing number, the enormous cast of more than 50 actors received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Overall, “Hairspray” was a definite success.