Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone
Leading this huge cast is Emily Buckley as Tracy. She makes this overweight girl into someone the audience can readily identify with and gains their love and admiration with her spunky and heartfelt portrayal. Her powerful voice excels in many numbers including "Good Morning Baltimore" which opens the show, "I Can Hear Bells", a fall in love at first sight number, and "You Can't Stop the Beat" when triumphs over all odds. Emily not only sings wonderfully but dances up a storm in this role, too. Jonathan Keene stars as Edna Turnblad, Tracy's fun loving overweight mother usually played in drag by a man. He is a hoot in this role, stealing many a scene with his one liners and double takes. Jonathan gets to sing and dance in "Welcome to the 60's" with three girls strutting their stuff like the Supremes, "Big Blonde and Beautiful" and "The Big Dollhouse" where all the women in town are in jail. At the end of this song Jon belts out "Like Me" ala Mama Rose from "Gypsy." One of his funniest numbers is "Timeless to Me", a vaudeville soft show which Jon does with Jeff Belanger as Wilbur. Their adlibs and patter during this number are brilliantly done as they stop the show with their rendition. Jeff does a terrific job as the loving and supportive husband and father who wants both of his girls' dreams to come true.
Dark and handsome, Ryan Durkey plays Corny Collins, a young Dick Clark type who can sing and dance. His strong baritone voice leads the chorus in "Nicest Kids is Town", "The Madison" where he discovers Tracy and "Hairspray" when Tracy wins the contest. Ryan does an excellent job as the TV host who stands up to his pain in the ass producer. Jacob Zentis plays Link Larsen, Tracy's dancing dreamboat. Link is a wannabe Elvis who is using the TV show as a stepping stone to fame and fortune. He becomes a better person when he falls in love with Tracy. Jacob handles the transition wonderfully. His voice is heard in duets with Emily called "It Takes Two" and "without Love." The villains of this show are the conceited and egotistical, Velma and Amber Von Tussle. Nadine Goulet is fantastic as this dragon lady who runs roughshod over everyone at the TV station. She plays this bitchy, slutty mother to the hilt, sleeping with anyone to make her untalented daughter famous. Her strong voice is heard in "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" sextet and in the tango like "Baltimore Crabs" where she proclaims all women have to be beautiful to get anywhere in this world. Her snotty, spoiled daughter Amber is played by Shauna Brosky. Amber lusts after Link throughout the show and finally gets her comeuppance with her mother at the close of the show.
The most amazing voice in this show belongs to Marsha Furtado as Maybelle. Her powerful voice soars off the charts with her bluesy, gospel numbers. Her first one is "Big, Black and Beautiful" when she encourages Edna to appear on TV and her second dynamic number is "I Know Where I've Been" which stops the show with well deserved applause. Playing Tracy's best friend, Penny is the terrific Holly Cardoza who played Hodel in "Fiddler" last year. She is a triple threat performer who delivers the goods in this role. Holly sings and dances up a storm in the sextet number, the jail number "The Big Dollhouse", "Without Love" is fabulous and in the finale where she is transformed into a hot looking babe. She utters another line from "Gypsy", I'm a pretty girl, Mama. Motormouth's son Seaweed is wonderfully played by Jay Nova. This is his debut onstage and he delivers the goods as Seaweed. Jay's marvelous voice is heard in "Run & Tell That" and "Without You" with Holly. Ken Kawa and Vanessa Medeiros do a tremendous job with their multiple roles in this show. Ken as the principal, the dressmaker and the owner of the hairspray while Vanessa plays Penny's bigoted mother, gym teacher and the prison matron. Little Inez is excellently played with sass and verve by Ava Russell who also shows off her strong dancing ability, too. The chorus members excel with their singing and dancing ability in this musical extravaganza. So for a trip back to the fun and carefree days of the 1960's, be sure to catch this dynamite production of "Hairspray" in Fall River. Tell them Tony sent you.