Hairspray at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace | Theater review
Drury Lane styles a spirited revival of the ’60s-set musical.
The colors are bright, the dancing is sharp and the hair is big in 1962 Baltimore, where spunky, chubby teen Tracy Turnblad (Lillian Castillo) sparks a movement for racial integration and overall self-acceptance on after-school TV. Since its debut a decade ago, the musical adaptation of the 1988 John Waters film has become a contemporary classic. The bold characters, relentlessly catchy music and inspirational story line make Hairspray a musical antidepressant. Tammy Mader’s production is a steady stream of feel-good energy.
Mader, who directs and choreographs, has a fine handle on spectacle, but at times she puts too much onstage. During “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” for instance, the ensemble appears to dance behind the mother-daughter pairs, pulling focus from the number’s real stars. Conversely, placing “Run and Tell That” on a bus enhances the cultural significance for the black characters, but restricts the choreography during one of the show’s most exhilarating songs.
The female characters dominate this production. Castillo gives a pitch-perfect performance in the central role, while Rebecca Pink is equally excellent as her best friend, Penny; the duo’s comic skills match their powerful vocals. As the show’s big mamas, Felicia P. Fields and a cross-dressing Michael Aaron Lindner prove that talent, at least, doesn’t discriminate.