Charleston Stage opened its season on Friday with Hairspray, a Tony Award-winner and Broadway powerhouse. City Paper sent its resident theater queens to review the show. Both have shunned hairspray; their philosophy is that it doesn’t matter what the hair looks like as long as it’s still on your head. Really, they get shit for not having a blow-dryer in the house.
Greg: We should note this is not our first exposure to Hairspray. I’ve got family I’ve seen less than this show over the past few years.
Shane: To be fair, musical numbers fall kind of flat at reunions.
Greg: Sum up the story for those who missed the original John Waters movie, the long-running Broadway sensation, and the successful movie musical.
Shane: It’s Baltimore in the early ’60s. A young girl doesn’t “fit the mold,” but she ends up celebrating differences and integrating the local TV dance show.
Greg: The civil rights issue is obviously a heavy subject, but it’s not handled heavily.
Shane: Is that a fat joke? Nicely played. There are several jokes poking fun at the institutional racism of the time. The sad thing is that most of it is funny because it used to be true. Now, it just looks ridiculous.
Greg: Standout performances?
Shane: Stephanie Faatz as straight-laced Penny. I couldn’t stop laughing at her dance moves. She stole every scene.
Greg: Agreed, Penny gets some of the best lines, but it takes a terrific performer to draw attention to the character. Another example would be Crystin Gilmore as record shop owner and Baltimore idol Motormouth Maybelle.
Shane: It seemed like there were some opening-night jitters for Mary-E Godfrey as lead Tracy Turnblad, but everything was going full steam as the curtain rose on Act II, and she drove straight through the finale.
Greg: Must have been a Red Bull at intermission. Props to Godfrey for a role that is a big challenge — with hardly any time off the stage.
Shane: It’s hard to pick favorite numbers, but “I Know Where I’ve Been” and “I Can Hear the Bells” stood out for me.
Greg: “Welcome to the ’60s,” “Run and Tell That,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” There’s hardly a number from composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman that isn’t terrific. “You’re Timeless to Me,” seemed to be popular.
Shane: For a lot of folks in the crowd, the line about Geritol hit them where they live.
Greg: There were several other performers who stood out, including Brian Bogstad as dragalicious Edna Turnblad, as well as supporting work from Mikey Nagy, Nicholas Piccola, and Drew Parker.
Shane: And Ira Lindbert Harris was working his mojo as Seaweed Stubbs.
Greg: You’re ready to be his next checkerboard chick?
Shane: I’ll cut a bitch.
Greg: Set design was stellar and creative. John Waters even makes a welcome cameo.
Shane: Tracy’s wig for most of the show was a fright and a straight-up hot mess.
Greg: She was in working-class Baltimore.
Shane: They had water and a hair brush. But the rest of the wigs in the show looked brilliant.
Greg: And this was Charleston Stage’s first show back in the Dock Street.
Shane: It was worth every penny. Lovely setup. Lovely seating.
Greg: Yeah, we just didn’t have enough time to finish our wine at intermission.
Shane: After chugging that glass, I felt big, blonde, beautiful.
Greg: I think that’s gray.
Shane: I. Will. Cut. A. Bitch.