Welcome to Baltimore, 1962. The teens are rockin’ and rollin’ on Corny Collins’ TV show. But trouble is in the air. It’ll take some stiff strategies to stand up and shine. That’s right. You’ll need “Hairspray!”
On opening night, dozens of exuberant performers play to a standing room only crowd. Their energy and sincerity are boundless and wonderfully contagious. The story itself is a musical expression of teen age resilience and a battle against prejudice. It will require a combination of onstage excellence and offstage leadership to successfully deliver this simple but powerful message.
Offstage, Director Barbara Auriemma continues her very positive influence on local stages. She is complemented by extremely skillful performances including her husband Frank Auriemma (Edna Turnblad) and son Austin Auriemma (Link Larkin). Producers Sandi Plotkin and Sharon Cohen bring their many years of experience as well. Choreographer Jenifer Badamo, well known throughout the region for her dancing and writing expertise, joins highly respected Musical Director Rhea Arkin to complete this list of valuable theatrical assets.
Onstage, Tanya Fiebert plays Tracy Turnblad, the star struck teen with a social conscience. Her performance is consistent, charming and wonderfully unflinching. Shuga Henry as Motor Mouth Maybelle delivers the show’s climactic song “I Know Where I’ve Been” with power, conviction and a beautiful sparkle in her eyes.
Zach Bravo as Corny Collins convincingly combines his disarming smile and nice guy image while confronting 1960s hypocrisy. Meanwhile, it takes plenty of hairspray for his conniving boss Velma Von Tussel (Jill Ameri) and her superficial daughter Amber (Jennifer Silverman) to hold their hairstyles in place.
In spite of the musical’s very fast pace, there’s always time for romance. Kate Brady as awkward Penny Pingleton blossoms beautifully thanks to her worldly wise and easy going boyfriend Seaweed J. Stubbs (Keven Campbell).Tracyand Link offer their mutual affection in “It Takes Two.” But the biggest scene stealers are Mark York as Wilbur Turnblad and his “needs-a-shave” wife Edna (Frank Auriemma). Their song, “You’re Timeless to Me” earns riotous laughter and applause. Bravo to all the happy, hilarious couples.
The Marathon Little Theatre Group is onstage at 245-37 60th Avenue (Marathon Jewish Community Center) in Douglaston. Call (718) 229-4644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Always check the Queens Courier for this and future productions. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.