I braced myself for what I thought would be merely a disappointing take on the 2007 musical film “Hairspray” – who doesn't love that movie? – yet Kings Mountain High School shocked me with its production of the stage version. The cast elated the audience with fabulous talent and exuberant energy.
When the curtain parted, we were hit with the realities of 1962 and a central theme of the show: segregation. Motormouth Maybelle (Kaitlyn Adams) touched the audience with her performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been," a song that highlights her struggles with oppression. The cast depicted that inequality, a tough subject for high school students to tackle, and showed the progress made by society by the end.
Although technical problems are nearly inevitable, the show had many that took away from the experience. Crackling microphones and lengthy blackouts between scenes took me out of the world the cast brilliantly created. I was, however, always recaptured and taken back to Baltimore by the lively performances.
The costumes fit the time period. The directors did an excellent job in depicting Tracy Turnblad (Jordyn Peterson) and Penny Pingleton (Jensen Fleisher) as they watched “The Corny Collins Show” from their house: The girls would stare off into the audience as if looking at a television, when the “show” was being performed two yards from the girls. Tracy and Penny comically complemented one another; Penny’s hilarious comic relief let Tracy’s determination and singing voice dominate the show.
Edna Turnblad (Derek England) added to the comical aspect of the show with her (his?) overblown personality, similar to John Travolta’s performance in the 2007 film. When the show’s stud, Link Larkin (Austin Willis), began his first solo, “It Takes Two," nearly every girl’s heart in the audience melted. (Did I mention he was a suave dancer, too?) Seaweed J. Stubbs (Allen Williams) enraptured the audience with a smooth singing voice and charming personality.
In the final song, the entire cast burst with vitality, as they rushed up the aisles and waited to say goodbye to audience members in the lobby upon our departure. As the cast best said it, “You Can’t Stop the Beat” of this fun-loving, cheerful performance.
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