The applause is appreciatively thunderous as the company of Hairspray ends each performance of the 2002 Broadway musical comedy with the aptly named "You Can't Stop the Beat" at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford.
The beat is evident throughout the evening starting with an energetic and catchy rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore" which identifies where the musical is set in 1962 as it begins its probe of the social inequalities of that period in time.
The show, the 174th play over 37 years put on by Westchester Broadway Theatre, is based on a 1988 film of the same name written and directed by John Waters.
Hairspray opened at the Elmsford dinner/theater on May 3 and will continue to June 3. This is in keeping with a new policy introduced by owners/executive producers Bob Funking and Bill Stutler to increase the number of annual shows (from about five up to as many as nine) and decrease the run period (from about six to approximately four weeks).
Leading the cast with commanding performances are Erin McCracken as the well-intentioned plump teenager and aspiring dancer Tracy Turnblad, and Tad Wilson, in drag, as her fully proportioned mother Edna.
Tracy wants to try out as a dancer for The Corny Collins Show; her plus-sized mother Edna objects, fearing only embarrassment and disappointment lies ahead for her overweight daughter. But when Tracy's father advise her to follow her dream, she auditions. As her mother fears, Tracy is rejected along with a cute, young black girl Little Inez.
Encouraged by her pal Penny and coached by black friend and talented dancer Seaweed Stubbs (the brother of Little Inez), Tracy doesn't give up. She catches the attention of TV show host Corny Collins at a school dance and he invites her to join his show.
Tracy organizes a protest against the TV program's racial descrimination, goes to jail, escapes, wins the Miss Teenage Hairspray competition, inspires Corny Collins to integrate his TV show and wins the heart of The Corny Collins Show member Link Larkin. All ends well as the TV show's dance floor is racially integrated and Tracy is pardoned by the governor.
Providing support are cast members Bruce Rebold as Tracy's kooky father Wilber, Kara Dombrowski as Tracy's selfish rival Amber Von Tussle, Ann Van Cleave as Amber's manipulative mother Velma, Pat McRoberts as TV show host Corny Collins, Stacie Gogo as Tracy's close friend Penny Pingleton, Tripp Hampton as Tracy's love interest Link Larkin, Inga Ballard as Motormouth Maybelle (owner of a record shop and host of "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show), Elgin Giles as Mothermouth's talented dancing son Seaweed (who becomes a love interest for Penny), and Sydni Beaudoin as Seaweed's very cute kid sister Little Inez, who is rejected in her attempt to audition for the The Corny Collins Show.
The fast-paced, song-and-dance-filled production was directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, whose previous work at this theater includes Beauty & The Beast, Gypsy and Singin’ In The Rain. Stafford was joined in bringing the production to the stage by Musical Director Leo Carusone and Associate Director/Choreographer Jonathan Stahl.
Michael Bottari and Ron Case were responsible for set and costume design and construction. Crew directors and members also included Set Coordinator Steve Loftus, Costume Coordinator Gail Baldoni, Hair/Wig Designer Gerard Kelly, Lighting Design Andrew Gmoser, Sound Designer Jonathan Hatton, Production Stage Manager Victor Lukas and Assistant Stage Manager Ron Rogell. Properties were provided by Grumpy’s Props.
Depending on the performance, the admission cost including meal and show ranges between $52 and $75 plus tax and tip. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens for selected performances. For performance dates or more information: www.BroadwayTheatre.com
Show dates and times:
- Wednesday and Thursday Matinee: Lunch at 11:30 a.m. and show at 1 p.m.
- Thursday, Friday and Saturday Evening: Dinner at 6:30 p.m. and show at 8 p.m.
- Sunday Matinee: Lunch at noon and show at 1:30 p.m.
- Sunday Evening: Dinner at 5:30 p.m. and show at 7 p.m.
The show runs about two hours and has a 30-minute intermission.
The Westchester Broadway Theatre is located at 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford, NY. 914-592-2268. www.broadwaytheatre.com