Big Hair Takes Center Stage as Hairspray Makes a Splash at the Fabulous Fox Theatre

The cast of Hairspray. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

–by Jen Cunningham

Tracy Turnblad (played by Niki Metcalf) and Seaweed J Stubbs (played by Brandon G. Stalling) gave them something to talk about at Patterson Park High School during the short run of “Hairspray” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre last week. Tracy and Seaweed both seemed to land regularly in detention. Seaweed, a black student, had dance moves that were new and captivating to Tracy. Tracy was a slightly overweight, white student at PPHS, that was dying to make the audition cut for the Corny Collins show.
Corny Collins (played by Billy Dawson) is the host of a dance show that reminds you a little of American Bandstand. In this moment (the early 1960’s) the Corny Collins show is cast only by slender, beautiful, white students, but Corny was looking for a change. Corny is a progressive host that wants his show to reflect the audience that watched it. With Seaweeds dance moves could Tracy make the cut?

Niki Metcalf as “Tracy Turblad” in Hasirspray. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
The production welcomes EVERYONE to the 1960’s to the early stages of integration and the civil rights movement. There are a few cringe worthy moments in the scenes of the 1960’s. My son gasped at the idea that there was ever a “Negro Day”. It sparked a long conversation on the way home about how things were in the 50’s and 60’s, and how much further we still need to go. Art imitating life, imitating art… This is why we love the arts, its stirs much needed conversations.

Emery Henderson as “Penny Pingleton” and Brandon G. Stalling as “Seaweed J. Stubbs” in Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
We both absolutely loved the production!!! The lead Tracy, played by the amazing Niki Metcalf was very well done. For me, this show has a few characters that are crucial to its success: Edna Turnblad played by Andrew Levitt, and Motormouth Maybelle played by Sandie Lee. At the end of Act I, Motormouth will have you believing anything is possible with her rendition of “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful”. While in Act II, Edna and Wilbur (played by Andrew Levitt and Christopher Swan) will absolutely melt your heart. Parents everywhere that have ever felt like they have lost their identity, in the quest to be a great parent and/or spouse, will melt to this song.

“Hairspray” featuring Kaelee Albritton as “Amber Von Tussle” (left of center) and Billy Dawson as “Corny
Collins” (center) in
Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
The humor and grace of this production will warm your heart and leave you laughing hysterically. The execution of this song was absolutely phenomenal. “I know where I’ve been” sung by Motormouth (Sandie Lee) gives this production just enough emotion to drive home the serious points, yet the charm to make “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” the song you cant get out of your head.
A story of progress and the beauty inclusion, brought to you through colorful, pastiche, musical numbers.
This production was amazing! Hopefully it comes back for a longer run.

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