Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Hairspray!

I have tried to write this post about six separate times. Titling them all the same way, preparing to mush and gush about what an incredible weekend I experienced--over three weeks ago.

Alas, the time has come to provide homage to the incredible production of Hairspray performed by Dawson-Boyd High School. Be forewarned. This post will exist at a daunting length so as to cover every worthy moment. Skim as you see fit.

On Friday afternoon--after a loooong week of work--Roommate cousin, Seashell and I climbed in the car and embarked upon the 10-hour journey to Dawson Minnesota. With an inappropriate amount of snacks, left over Thai food and newly purchased tape cassettes, the road was set before us with only the eager anticipation of reaching our destination.

The drive went fast. After learning Jeff Buckley only had one good song and not all songs in the 80s should have been considered hits, we listened to Les Miserables. An appropriate choice for a musical weekend. Roommate cousin and I performed the whole production with exuberance while Seashell snoozed in the back seat. With a hint of lime and a lot of cheese, we eventually made it in record time. Let me just boast about the fact we entered the car at 5:20 pm, arrived at just shy of 3 am and only used the restroom once. A personal achievement. 

Despite the late hour, we stayed up to hear the fresh details of that evening's premiere performance. Baiting our appetites. Then we went to bed as visions of 60s hairdos and cans of hairspray danced in our heads.

The next day we spoke of nothing but the show while drinking nearly twelve pots of coffee and eating six loaves of bread. For lunch, we ate at the Rusty and momentarily veered away from our discussion of the show and pondered various ways that Seashell could become Dawson gnomed.

It was a fantastic day. Merely a prequel for what was to be a fantastic evening.

Last year's production of Les Miserables was incredible. It turned expectations from little bubbles to hot air balloons. Basically, it set the standards for Dawson musical productions incredibly high.

Fortunately, the talent had not yet graduated.

As the lights went down and the curtains came up, my heart pitter-pattered, my eyes widened, and my ears began to sing. Song after song -- character after character -- not a flaw in the show to be found.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hairspray, it is the Broadway take on the 80s film of the same title. It is the story of an overweight girl, Tracy Turnblad, who has dreams of becoming famous. She sets her sights on an after school dance program hosted by the charismatic Corny Collins. However,  prudish and old-fashioned Velma, the shows producer, deems Tracy too heavy to be a dancer on the show. Tracy proves her wrong and warrants her position on the program, winning the hearts of Baltimore and the heart of young crooner, Link.

But her adventure is not over. The show takes place in the early 60s, in a time where segregation is still very prominent. The black students are not allowed to dance on the program with the white students. But times are changing and with Tracy's effervescence and determination, she ignites a fire in everyone's hearts. Encouraging people to stand proud of who they are and to fight for equality.

The show is at times vapid and silly, but then hits on heavy topics (pun intended). It leaves you with a song in your heart and motivation in your step. Go for your dreams, refusing to let anything hold you back.

The young girl who played Tracy was phenomenal. She captured that right mix between over the top and motivational. Every bit worth her sudden fame and the desires of Link, who was equally as charming.

A man traditionally plays the role of Tracy's mother, Edna, and Dawson followed suit. The young man who played the overweight and boisterous mother stole the show with his one liners and stage presence. He was hilarious. And his romance with the husband character veered away from awkward and just hit the nail on the head with funny. He committed. And his commitment made the show.

Corny Collins. As one of the songs says, "the only thing better than Hairspray is me... he's Corny Collins." How true those words are. Corny (played by my incredible cousin) was debonair, handsome, charming, witty, and entertaining. Corny is the face of the appropriately named, Corny Collins Show. Though people behind the scenes are stuck in the past, Corny is influential in the changes that are coming. I would say he is the most important character of the show, and I am being both biased and unbiased here. Really. Without Corny, there is no Hairspray. And without my cousin, well, I would not have had a reason to go see this remarkable play.

The production itself was amazing. The staging and costumes really fit the feel of the play. The dance scenes were catchy and everyone was in unison. Throughout the show, there is just so much to look at that it is hard to draw your eye away for a moment (hence the lack of photographs).

In an effort to actually publish the post, I am going to rap it up. Overall, perfect. I can't wait for the DVD so that I can bring a taste of the magic home.

If I could press rewind on the tape-cassette -- I would prepare my bouffant, spritz it with a can of ultraclutch, and head back to the 60s.

It's hairspray.


  1. Wow. You do us too much honor, cousin Nikki. Thank you for your glowing critique! Can we quote you on our marketing for the DVD?

  2. I am the man who played Edna. Thank you for your kind comments. If you did see les Miserables, I also played Javert. Jonathan is a good friend of mine.


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