Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Woodrow Wilson High School Hairspray

By • Nov 22nd, 2010 • Category: Cappies

The audience didn’t even hesitate. In a wave, they came to their feet, at first in an uncontrollable frenzy and then in a clapping, pulsating tempo. On stage, the actors each took their final bow, eliciting one last roar of approval. A fitting end to Woodrow Wilson High School’s Hairspray‘s tremendous performance.

Hairspray was written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with music written by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman in response to the 1988 film by John Waters. After opening on Broadway in 2002, Hairspray went on to win eight Tony awards out of thirteen nominations.

It is 1962, Baltimore, Maryland and Tracy Turnblad dreams of joining the cast of The Corny Collins Show, a nationally broadcast dance show. But when she lands the role, her outspoken support for the mounting civil rights movement may cost her everything. Only with the support of her mother Edna and father Wilbur, her best friend Penny, her fellow cast members and new found friends, can she hope to strike a blow for racial equality and win Ms. Teenage Hairspray!

This show’s great strength was the commitment and animation of the leading players and the whole supporting cast. Their countenance, enthusiasm and especially their expressive facial expressions, projected far into the audience. Every cast member established idiosyncratic characteristics of their very own.

From her opening number, “Good Morning Baltimore”, Maggie Roos as Tracy Turnblad embodied a very distinct personality using her powerful voice and facial expressions to communicate to the audience. Her romantic counterpart, Kevin Kelly as Link Larkin not only shared endearing chemistry with Roos in their scenes together, but proved an exceptional physical actor. His hip gyrations in the Presley parody “It Takes Two” were a performance in their own right.

It could be said that as Seaweed, Timothy Hunter possessed an elegant sense of rhythm, a commanding sense of self confidence, and a subtle though not overlooked comedic instinct. He was the living embodiment of pure cool. His counterpart, Emily Gore as Penny Pingleton was simply exceptional when delivering potentially cringeworthy lines with enthusiasm and truth. Gore held the audience’s attention, noteworthy especially in such a strong cast. Finally, as the central antagonist, Chloe Menderson as Velma Von Tussle had not only had a captivating voice but an unmatched physicality. She only disappointed when she left the stage.

Lighting and sound highlighted the show without distracting from it. Sound quality was nearly pitch perfect all night, whatever tiny errors made nearly unnoticeable. Lighting was of a professional quality.

“You can’t stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky” and you couldn’t stop the excitement Woodrow Wilson High School generated Friday night.

by Joseph Powers of T.C. Williams

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2 Responses »

  1. Correction: Chloe Menderson (Velma Von Tussle) not Mederson — thanks!

  2. We apologize for the error, it has been fixed in the article. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Mike