Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Jul 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Hairspray—Extra Firm Hold

ane_hairpsrayCabrillo Stage turns up the volume

Santa Cruz, we have a problem. The capacity of Cabrillo’s Crocker Theater is 523, and there are 13 performances of Cabrillo Stage’s smash hit production of “Hairspray” left on the calendar. You do the math—and then get yourself a ticket, stat.

Last weekend’s opening of the Tony Award- winning musical played to a full house, one that squealed with bobby sox enthusiasm, laughed at every gag, whether over the top or nuanced, and rose to their feet en masse—for a standing ovation, and to dance along with the talented cast during curtain call.

“Hairspray” is a coming-of-age story. In this cleverly written show, the story is set in 1962 and the setting is segregated Baltimore and its local televised teen sock hop, The Corny Collins Show. This show within a show (one of my favorite devices) features The Nicest Kids in Town, and once a month —Negro Day. This subtle hint in the second song of the show alerts us to the savvy subterfuge ahead.

As we watch these teenage characters come of age, acting out against parental wishes, finding love, and speaking up for themselves, the adults involved also come of age as they open their post-1950s minds. The other main character coming of age before our delighted eyes is, of course, America, on its path toward racial integration.

The show is based on John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name, and the stage version, by the team of Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan (book), Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics) maintains Waters’ sense of the absurd wrapped in rose-colored nostalgia and toe-tapping, finger-pointing, fault-exposing fun. It has a good beat that’s easy to dance to.

Monica Turner as Tracy Turnblad has us at hello, or in her case “Uh, oh, oh,” the first line of the first number, “Good Morning Baltimore.” The blind optimism embodied in her voice, dancing feet and bouffant hair-framed wide-eyed face make her instantly sympathetic and lovable.  Ashley Rae Little, as Tracy’s BFF Penny Pingleton, nearly steals scenes throughout, her full-body personification of teen awkwardness, naivete and clumsiness hitting every comic mark.

Kudos to Tony Panighetti as Edna Turnblad, mother of Tracy. In a role designed to be played by a man, he embraces the aspects of loving wife and doting mother, and avoids any “man in drag” clichés.  Panighetti is escorted lovingly by Doug Baird as Wilbur Turnblad. Their portrayal of playful, loving and often randy life partners

is heartwarming.

The production welcomed back Lile O. Cruse, longtime Cabrillo Stage artistic director, into the orchestra pit as conductor and musical director. The 14-piece live orchestra delivers the sugary pop hits, the love songs and the blues with equal aplomb.

The perfect soul mate to Cruse’s music direction is the choreography, provided by director Janie Scott. The pure joy portrayed in the ensemble numbers is only surpassed by the moves themselves—expect to see the Mashed Potato, Frug, Monkey and Madison. And if you don’t know what these are, you’ll want to after one sitting.

Clever and minimal staging works well, setting the tone and flavor of the era and playfulness of the show without overpowering.  Most outstanding is the use of onstage cameras, filming the show-within-a-show, projecting back to the audience in period black and white glory, reminding us of the somewhat simpler age in which this “black and white” story takes place, and also, to this viewer, pointing out how we as a culture have come of age in another sense, a technological age, and become addicted to anything on a screen. I’m certain that all eyeballs focused on the screens instead of the live action for much of these scenes. And who could blame them—it’s a fantastic device that worked seamlessly on many levels.

“Hairspray,” the product, keeps unruly hair in place. “Hairspray,” the Cabrillo Stage hit, keeps you humming, bopping, and maybe entices you to be a little more unruly.


For more information, visit Cabrillostage.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food