“Hairspray” brightens and illuminates on Opening Night

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Alberto Chang

The “Hairspray” cast waves to the audience during their final bow just after singing, “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

Nina Cestaro, staff writer

Hairspray the musical came to life at Diablo Valley College on opening night, Oct 21.

It’s the 1960’s and a big change is coming to Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad, played by Ashley Amanda Dionne is a delightful, plus- sized and proud adolescent who sings with a perfect soprano pitch and dances just as well. She aspires to be a star, and her and her best friend Penny Pingleton, Amanda Neiman want nothing more than to get onto their favorite after school dance program, The Corny Collins Show, despite the racial tensions surmounting in town.

A well-known and seasoned theater director, Lisa Drummond, directed this musical version of “Hairspray” written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. With a formidable 32 actors in total and a dozen crew members working backstage, this is one of the largest musicals recently produced by the DVC drama department.

Dionne’s dance moves were timed just right and choreographed appropriately, however her costume left her appearing dowdy at times, compared to the fuchsia sequined studded dresses of her counterpart singers and Edna Turnblad, her mother played by Jordan Smith.

The audience’s favorite song was definitely, “(You’re) Timeless to Me.” The way that Smith acts as Tracy’s mother is exhilarating as is Scotty Tsubota’s rendition of Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy’s father. His hitting her on the fanny for making self-deprecating comments was hilarious and the audience reacted with with laughter. Gracefully maneuvering through a line of laundry, the pair command the stage with chemistry not seen since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced together.

The costume artist magnified the cast’s performance. Costume designer, Tara Maginnis took major theatrical license with an arsenal of rainbow assorted cotton circle skirts, full length golden silk pajamas complete with a cape, lined with feathers, and period suits.

Link Larkin, played by Camron Mahaney and the talented Dominic Tracy playing show host looked especially charming in the bright and bold suits dancing and singing on stage.

Other bright moments in the play were masterfully delivered by Seaweed, Penny’s love interest, played by Myles Brown and Motormouth Maybelle played by Toniea Hawkins. They offered the most emotionally honest vocal performances of the night.

The set was exceedingly sparse however it was adept in demonstrating both a television show and the middle of a family’s living room.

“I never thought I’d play such a pivotal role in a play and it was an honor. Even from the early stages, Lisa Drummond is really there for you to grow as an actor, said Tsubota. In regards to the plot line of dismantling segregation he added, “It’s nice to see how things continue to change, while our opinions grow and change and society changes and progresses along with our perspectives in this extreme of John Waters’ view of [racial integration.]”  John Waters was the screenwriter for the original 1988 movie.

Claudia Lascelles, a patron said, “ I came because my friend’s son is in it. I can see how much hard work that they put into the production.”

Sometimes the real message of “Hairspray” is hidden behind the big hair, loud music, and dance pieces. Dionne expressed what she thought the real message is, “This play is really about acceptance, self-acceptance and acceptance of others.”

Miguel Cabrera, DVC music major and patron said, “I usually don’t like contemporary musicals but this one I love, the acting is superb.” The rush of applause at the end signified the audience surely enjoyed it.