Theater Info for the Washington DC region

St. Albans & National Cathedral School Hairspray

By • Mar 3rd, 2011 • Category: Cappies

In Baltimore, a city riddled by fierce racial prejudice and segregation, overweight teen dance enthusiast Tracy Turnblad is hungry for more than just popularity, trendy hairstyles, or a spot dancing on a popular TV dance show. She’s hungry for social change. In the hilarious, vivacious, and quirky character-laden musical comedy Hairspray, catchy melodies, laugh out loud jokes, and scintillating dance numbers captivate audiences. St. Albans & National Cathedral School brought all this and more to the stage this weekend as they put on their production of Hairspray.

Hairspray, originally a film from 1988, was adapted in early 2000 for the stage. Set in 1960’s Baltimore, the score is filled with rhythm and blues dance music popular during that era. The story follows the exuberant Tracy Turnblad, a plump and light-hearted high school girl obsessed with the Corny Collins Show, which features talented young teenage performers such as heartthrob Link Larkin. Becoming an overnight celebrity after miraculously scoring a spot on the show, she is soon determined to integrate the strictly segregated show for her African American friends; however, her support for such a radical civil rights movement is met with resistance. With the support of her idiosyncratic friend Penny, comical but loving mother Edna, as well as many others, the lovably rotund heroine risks her chance at stardom to take on the racial barriers cemented in her society.

Taking this dynamic and entertaining show on her small shoulders was the adorable Caroline Kelley. From her first arrival on stage, Kelley embodied her character adroitly, capturing many bubbly, innocent intricacies as she glided sprightly across stage, filling the auditorium with a warm, pleasing voice which hardly ever hit a wrong note. Kelley brought even more energy to an already exhilarating production, successfully crafting the endearing character needed to lift this production to a higher level.

Opposite Kelley, DJ Smick also impressed with a solid portrayal of Link Larkin. He oozed a confidence in his strutting gait and fitting mannerisms, effectively bringing to life a character embodying the stereotypical 1960’s male. Furthermore, Smick was a convincing love interest to Tracy. The two developed strong chemistry in stage which allowed for lively musical numbers, most notably “Without Love.”

Other standouts included Luke Taylor (Edna Turnblad), and Bridget Morrison (Penny Pingleton). Taylor gave arguably the most enjoyable performance of the night, depicting Tracy’s extremely heavy and loving mother in the drag to a side-splittingly funny degree. Masterfully portraying the bodacious woman, Taylor never failed to draw a laugh with his sassy voice inflections as he waddled across stage, waving his arms and manipulating his facial expressions perfectly for his character. Bridget Morrison added her humorous touch to the production as well with her depiction of Tracy’s peculiar, gum chewing, friend Penny. Morrison’s never ending twitching mannerisms and perpetual charactization nailed the idiosyncratic natures of her character, as well the change she undergoes.

Technical aspects included a sound orchestra, which despite occasional rhythmic hiccups was properly amplified and produced a nice sound for the bluesy, energetic songs. Also contributing handily to the show was well applied hair and make up aspects, which were for the most part period appropriate and added to the 1960’s ambiance of the show.

Despite occasional sloppiness, the cast and crew of St. Albans & National Cathedral School’s production of Hairspray should be commended for putting on such an enthralling performance with such a difficult work of musical theater. It breathed life and energy from the first note to the final bow, and completely brought out the truly joyous nature of such a show.

by Damian Leverett of McLean

Photo Gallery

Caroline Kelley and DJ Smick
Caroline Kelley and DJ Smick

Photo by Michael Butcher

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