Theater Review: “Hairspray”

Tremendous wigs, decked out threads and enough hairspray to tear through the ozone.

Directed by Shaheen Vaaz, Pierce’s rendition of “Hairspray” is a diamond in the rough. Vaaz had a great foundation to work with, but just couldn’t deliver with the lead actors at her disposal.

Jordan Haddad as Tracy Turnblad the lead, was effective, but lacked anything original. Haddad may very well be an instance of type casting, but she efficiently fulfilled her role.  

Elias Korio as Link Larkin never once embodied the bravado needed from the male lead. His stage presence lacked much to be desired. However, during his rendition of “It takes two,” there was some semblance of swagger, but not enough to last the entire run. Vocally, Korio was surprisingly impressive.

This motley crew of a cast boasted incredible supporting actors, but unfortunately the leads couldn’t follow suit. This is apparent when Haddad and Korio shared a less-than-passionate kiss in the final scenes.

Michelle Johnson as Penny Pingleton was the most underrated character throughout the performance. She alone subtly captured the overall essence of the play which was, in one word: endearing.

The choreography wasn’t as dynamic as one would expect for a production like ”Hairspray.” It seemed simplified to allow the vocals to command the stage, and yet, they didn’t. Credit is due to Brian Moe for attempting to play to the performers’ strengths. The best singing came from Leah Foster as Motormouth Maybelle. No one should expect any less from a veteran like Foster.

Maurice Alpharicio as Seaweed Stubbs had excellent rhythm and provided the fanciest footwork of the production.

Tyler Stouffer as Edna Turnblad completely cleansed the character from all the sins of John Travolta. His timing, tone and ability to enter a scene with maximum enthusiasm was phenomenal.

Timothy Kranz as Corny Collins played the quintessential host and was easily the second-best singer on stage. Collins had the best display of showmanship, and emanated nothing but calm, cool, collected vibes.

The stage design was ambitious and seemed to please the audience. Having the sets on a swivel allowed for relatively fast scene shifts and invoked a real sense of a fast-paced city-like Baltimore.

The Pierce College Orchestra, led by Wendy Mazon, played an excellent score for the entire performance. The melodic mood of the ‘60s floated from the orchestral pit for the entire audience to enjoy.

Overall, this play was entertaining and one would be hard pressed to find a more earnest production.
“Hairspray” has three remaining performances, May 12-14 in the Performing Arts Mainstage. Tickets are available through brownpapertickets.com