Clear the calendar of obligations, Verona. Put aside the yard work, and maybe even the homework. There’s a musical to see, and it’s not going to be here for very long. “Hairspray” opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse this past Sunday and it’s playing only through October 24. We saw the opening performance Sunday, and it was a blast.
You’re not going to know the names of a lot of the actors, but that’s OK. This is an ensemble effort in the best sense of the term. That collective leap that you see above was during “You Can’t Stop the Beat” at the very end of the show, after they had been singing and dancing at full tilt for almost two hours. They performed numbers that the kids loved, like “I Can Hear The Bells”, and ones that made the parents roar, like “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now”. That one was not in the John Travolta movie version, but was part of the original Broadway hit, which–get your trivia notebooks ready–featured lighting by Verona’s own Ken Posner.
Christine Danelson (Tracy Turnblad) seemed a little unsteady in the opening number, but before the first act was too far along it was clear that nothing was going to stand in her way, beats or otherwise. And while Travolta’s a great actor, Christopher Sieber (Edna Turnblad) took much greater advantage of the comedy that comes from having a big man play the female lead. He may have danced better than Travolta, too. No kidding.
Though the Paper Mill is local theater, tickets aren’t cheap. (MyVeronaNJ has a rule against freebies.) But the whole afternoon was a lot cheaper than Broadway–and a lot more fun.
(Photo by Kevin Sprague.)
Got my tickets weeks ago – can’t wait!