Whitney Players' "Hairspray" a must see, if you can get a ticket...
The show was just fabu! From the acting and singing, right down to the set, costumes and all 114 cast members.
The bad part is that it goes on again tonight at 7:30 at Hamden High School, and unless you get there early, you won't get a seat. And, with the way people who've seen the show are talking about it, there may be no seats to be had anyway.
So, let's start by talking about how "devine" Rick Hribko is in playing Edna Turnblad. Edna apparently is the musical's comedic foil however, when one examines it, the character made popular by Devine and John (Is he really gay?) Travolta could actually be a dramatic story intertwined with the teen love stories. You're looking at a character, a "woman," an early 1960s Mom who has stayed to herself and worked as a laundress to help her family pay the bills, as her doting husband, played by a joyfully funny David Cannizzaro, has a novelty store that never really took off the ground.
Edna hasn't been out of the house in years, and it takes a lot of urging by her friends and family to get out there and fight. How many women do we know from that era who stayed home and took care of their families, women who all their lives put away their hopes and dreams, and lost themselves and their self-esteem in the process? Well, until Edna's daughter, Tracy, has a gig on the Corny Collins Show, and until Mr. Pinky dresses the two of them in high fashion, and especially until Motormouth Maybelle sings some sense into Edna, she is retiring and negative.
Motormouth is played by the unequalled Babs Alexander., who shoots some self-esteem into Edna, Tracy and others with her solo, "Big, Blonde and Beautiful." In the second act, she brought the house down and standing on their feet with "I Know Where I've Been," a song that reflects on the struggle blacks have had for equality.
One of the things I liked best about this show was that adults -- very talented adults -- played the adult roles, and young people -- very talented young people -- played the younger roles. Often times in community theater it's difficult to strike an age and talent balance. But this time, Director Cindy Simell-Devoe struck it rich! Great job, Cindy. The best Whitney Players show I've ever seen.
Before I start to talk about the young people, I would be extremely remiss if I didn't pay special recognition to Susan Kulp. She played a deliciously wicked Velma Von Tussle. Her years as a professional performer showed through as the character desperately tried to keep the Corny Collins Show segregated for only young white people in 1960s Baltimore. Want to cast a villianness? Kulp's your gal!
The other half of the Von Tussle dynasty is Amber Von Tussle, the character in a struggle for the Miss Hairspray title, and the love of Link Larkin. Amber is played by Samantha Edelman and boy, what a job she did, singing, acting, dancing and trying to claw Tracy Turnblad out of her life so she can keep the love of her pitiful life, Link, which was wonderfully played by Vin Ianniello. Loved your voice Vin, and yours too, Sam. And yours three, Jason Lerma, a perfect Corny.
And how could any Hamden theater-goer not love Scott Redmond? Scott has grown up in the Hamden theater community, and most recently played Danny Zuko in Hamden High's "Grease." He plays Seaweed, Motormouth's son, who wins the affection of the very innocent and somewhat dingy Penny Pingleton, played by Hannah Kolb.
I saw Hannah and Phoebe Wright, who starred as Tracy, when they played the same parts at Sacred Heart Academy two years ago. The Whitney Players version of "Hairspray" raised them to even higher heights.
Phoebe's clear, crisp belt and acting chops were a pleasure to witness once again.
I can go on and on about this show, but from what I've written, I'm sure you can see that I thought "Hairspray" was great.
Break a leg, tonight, Whitney Players!