Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
At the center of everything is Allyson Pace, singing and dancing up a storm as Tracy Turnblad, a typical teenager if maybe a little size challenged. Her joy at waking up and wishing "Good Morning Baltimore" to one and all gets this Hairspray off to a rousing start. Matthew McGee gets another crack at playing Tracy's mom Edna (he has played this great part before) and in my mind, this goes right to the top of my favorite performances by Matt, one of my local favorites. Thomas Mothershed contributes nicely as husband/father Wilbur. The other half of The Scott and Patti Show, a local drag extravaganza, Scott Daniel plays Corny Collins. He is showbiz smarmy in just the right way. Alison Burns and Meredith Pughe are mother and daughter villains Velma and Amber Von Tussle, while David Michael Bevis is Tracy's love interest Link Larkin. Jayne Trinette, Deejay Young, and Nia Jamison-Sissle are Motormouth Maybelle and her two children Seaweed J. Stubbs and Young Inez. Kayla Thomas completes the principals as Penny Pingleton. The ensemble cast all dance and sing their hearts out to enliven things.
Shain Stroff directs and choreographs perfectly for this venue. The stage area is quite large and he fills it with enough energy to keep downtown St. Petersburg lit even if we should experience a brown out. Michael Raabe directs the music end of things in his usual sensational way. He is able to convincingly direct the music for many musicals with many diverse styles. My only quibble is that Michael is at the back end of the stage; one of my favorite things when attending one of his productions is to enjoy how much he loves doing what he is doing. He is so animated. Jerid Fox is responsible for the terrific scenic design, incorporating an area stage right for the Turnblad home and Har-De-Har Hut. The colorful costumes are the work of Trish Kelly, lighting design is by Mike Wood, and Scott Daniel has designed wigs and hair, just in case he was not busy enough as Corny.
Hairspray is the perfect musical for Demon's Landing, and is now my favorite of all I have seen here (Hair, Rent, and The Wiz among others). This is one of my favorite productions of this wonderful musical.
American Stage Theater Company presentsHairspray through May 14, 2017, at Demons Landing in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit americanstage.org.
Cast (in order of appearance):
Direction and Choreography: Shain Stroff