My readers have probably long figured out that I don't like to write about a show unless I would recommend the show, with a figurative scoring in my head of more than 6/10. Either that, or all of you think that I just love every show I see. For the record, I don't. I do try to focus more on the positive to develop the sense of community for which community theater stands.
For the few of you out there who have missed the productions of Hairspray at Hale Orem, Scera, Midvale Main Street, Centerpoint Legacy, Riverton, Spanish Fork and most other theaters in the Salt Lake/Provo areas, you are in luck! The latest (and hopefully last for awhile) to run the show actually has a pretty great production to end the Hairspray streak with a bang (pun intended).
What gets tricky, after seeing so many casts (including the original Broadway cast...twice), is not playing the "All-star cast" game. My friend and I sat there saying, "Ooo, we'd pick this person for this part and this part and this choreographer and this director and this scenery and this stage and and and." After we convinced ourselves to sit back and simply enjoy the production, the night was a lot more smooth.
Upon entering Sandy City Amphitheater (Utah), your ears are filled with tunes of the early 1960s. No music can make me happier, I tell you what. I didn't even notice I was singing along as I spread my blanket on the hillside until my evening's company began laughing at me. A huge projection screen on the stage displayed scenes of the same era. What an amazing touch to grab your attention and pull you into the show from the moment you arrive.
The cast had some big talent, not just in Carissa Klitgaard's Tracy Turnblad. Summer O'Very as Penny Pingleton was probably the biggest shock to me. She played the part as more of a quiet nerdy type than what I typically see, which made her busting out of her shell at the end all the more emphatic. She out sang the whole lot of 'em on "Without Love." Big time. Girl rocks it. I also cannot get enough of Lisa Grow as Velma Von Tussle. I saw her in a recent production of Gypsy, which I didn't have time to write about but would have recommended, and may just now be a super fan. She has acting chops, vocal prowess, especially the big belt note at the end of "Miss Baltimore Crabs," and a rockin' body. She is Velma Von Tussle.
I also have to give a huge shout out to Chantryce Diehl. I've seen her in several productions as an ensemble member and she served as Council Member Brenda in this production. Holy cow! If every ensemble member could kick it into gear and perform up to the level of Chantryce, the quality of our community theater would be multiplied ten times. You can not keep your eyes off of this girl during dance numbers. If you see the show, watch for the girl in the red, not that I even need to point her out. Chantryce, hats off, Lady!
All in all, I was looking for a little more animated bratiness from Amber and a little more I-can't-control-myself energy from Tracy. I also judge all men unfairly who try to conquer the part of Edna Turnblad because I can't look past the perfection of a performance from Russ McBride as Edna Turnblad from Midvale Main Street's production last February.
Another huge asset of this production was the costume/makeup/hair combination. I saw not a single costume ill-fitted, no slipping wigs, great facial features from the makeup, etc. Everyone looked absolutely stunning and as if the costumes were all handmade and tailored for each cast member.
The sets appear to have been borrowed from Centerpoint Legacy's production (if it wasn't, it sure looks familiar) and serve the stage perfectly. Good decision. I loved the projection of some actual live video of the council members during the Corny Collins show. This keeps reminding me I need to perform with theaters with more of a budget.
Summer weather doesn't get much more amazing than the remainder of this week, so might I suggest a literal breath of fresh air and supporting this talented bunch of performers?
You can catch Hairspray at the Sandy City Amphitheater at 8pm through August 27. You can buy tickets at the gate for less of a fee or here.