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August 20,  2004


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T H E A T E R   R E V I E W  -  Hairspray  -  Pantages Theatre


HOLLYWOOD, CA - On the surface Hairspray seems like a light, frothy musical with catchy tunes and spectacular costumes and choreography. Beneath its thick layer of sugar frosting is a story of how one girl breaks down the walls of racial discrimination in 1960's Baltimore. 

Marissa Jaret Winokur reprises her Tony award winning role as Tracy Turnblad, the spunky plus-size high school coed who dreams of dancing on a local television show. Being in the right place at the right time lands her a spot on the show where she captures the eye of heart throb Link Larkin, also played by the Broadway originator of the role Matthew Morrison. As her celebrity begins to soar Tracy soon realizes that segregation keeps many of her friends at arms length and so she sets about to change things. 

Riding high on the knowledge that she has overcome the discrimination that has kept women of size from ever performing on the Corny Collins show, Tracy now sets a higher goal, that of making room for people of color on the same program.

With the assistance of her mother, played to hilarious proportions by center square Bruce Villanch, the two plus-size beauties step up to the challenge. Being a big girl herself, Edna Turnblad supports her daughter as they lead the charge to fight for equality. 

It was indeed a treat to see several of the original cast that made this show such a Broadway sensation. Other standout performances include that of quasi 60s girl band--The Dynamites--featuring Deidre Lang, Nraca and Sabrina N. Scherff. Also worthy of mention is Charlotte Crossley, performaning as Motormouth Maybelle, who filled the theater with her powerful voice. 

Based on the John Waters movie of the same name, Hairspray is a lighthearted tribute to big girls, skinny girls, people of color, and anyone who sees injustice and demands a change. Tony award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman provide a score that keeps things moving with highly appealing tunes, which encourage CD purchases at the completion of the evening. Now playing at the Pantages Theatre through September 4, 2004. - Ruston Harker & Monica Poling

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