Mister D: Ms. Lally, who works for the Fox Theatre in St. Louis was kind enough to set me up with some reviews and a radio interview with Bruce and Mr. Todd Susman. I should have that up soon.
Steve Allen- KFUO-FM
Hairspray has made it to St. Louis and the Fox Theatre and it’s a treat indeed. Like the previous years’ Best Musical Tony winner, Thoroughly Modern Millie, this one’s just for fun. Sure there’s a bit of a message but it gets lost in the glitter and lights and rousing musical numbers.
Acceptance is probably the key to Hairspray’s message. Our heroine is a large girl who is trying to be accepted as one of the “popular” kids on a local dance party show while she in turn is trying to get that show to accept the black teenagers from the Baltimore area.
Carly Jibson is Tracy, the bouncy, loving, effervescent teen with heart and hope to match her size. What a delightful performance. Tackling the role of the mother, made famous by Harvey Firestein, is one of the funniest men on the face of the planet, Bruce Vilanch. Known principally as a comedy writer for numerous comedians and even awards shows, Mr. Vilanch has proven himself a worthy funny man himself on various talk shows and “Hollywood Squares.” Now he “owns” this role in Hairspray. Talk about worth the price of admission- he most definitely is.
Other stand outs include Austin Miller as the love of Tracy’s life, St. Louisan Todd Susman as the father, the trio of girls who make up a Supremes-like group, Tony Britton Johnson as the oily DJ and a load of supporting actors, dancers and singers that really make Hairspray rock.
The score by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Mr. Shaiman won’t go down in history like scores from such past Tony winners as Kiss Me, Kate or the complexities of a Sondheim musical, but it certainly suits the venue and is more memorable than a lot of scores we’ve heard in the past. The book, based on the John Waters movie, is cute and takes you back to the 60’s in style.
Sit back and enjoy. Don’t dwell on any of the messages- they seem superfluous compared to the fun everyone is having on stage. Hairspray takes you back and brings you pure singing and dancing entertainment spiced with the incomparable Bruce Vilanch. Don’t miss it as it plays at the Fox through March 21st. This is Steve Allen with a look at the theatre scene around St. Louis for Classic 99.