Monday, February 7

Beef and Boards: Hairspray

Seaweeed teaches Tracy to dance
Stepping back in time to the 1960s, Beef and Boards' production of Hairspray addresses prejudices against socially outcast overweight people through the main character, Tracy Turnblad, who in turn fights against racial prejudices, including segregation.

Never a comfortable subject, the eight-time Tony winning show uses a Baltimore dance show for teens and  popular music as the catalyst. Tracy (Jill Sullivan) wins a spot on the show using dance moves learned from her detention buddies who are only allowed to dance on "Negro Day" at school. Her closest ally, Seaweed, shows her the latest steps.
Edna and Motormouth

Newcomers to the B&B stage lit fire to the show with their performances. Angela Birchett as Motormouth Maybelle and Dan Dowling, Jr. as Tracy's mom, Edna Turnblad, stepped strongly into the Gotta Go spotlight this week. Birchett who has performed the same character on a national tour, captured the audience's
attention, particularly with I Know Where I've Been.
Edna and Tracy Turnblad

Dowling's take on the woman who is beaten down by years of nearly forgotten dreams shines as brightly as the red sequined dress he dons, complete with full-length red gloves.

The man who steps into the female role, portrayed by a male traditionally, was more than convincing as a woman, whether dressed dowdily or vamped up and stepping out of a giant hairspray can.

Edna and Wilbur Turnblad
Most notable is Dowling's duet and dance number with Tracy's father, Wilbur, portrayed by B&B favorite, John Vessels. The pair danced, sang and lovey-doveyed it up in the stand-out performance Timeless to Me.
Other note-worthy performances were turned in by Lindsay Porter as Little Inez, a little girl with big ambitions and the talent, energy and confidence to back it up; Sam Weber as teen heartthrob Link Larkin and Manning as Tracy's segregated friend Seaweed who has all the right dance moves.

Special note: With adult-themed comments and actions, this show may not be considered appropriate for the little ones.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Hairspray shows, in a musical fashion, how the rules of segregation were changed one battle at a time.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.
Photo credit: Julie Curry Photography

Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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