What makes a theatre aficionado happy? Answer: Watching the Actors’ Playhouse production of Hairspray at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables. This popular musical-comedy has been successfully transitioned to the stage, enthralling audiences with its magnificent resonance.
Based on the New Line Cinema film, directed and written by John Waters, with the original score by Academy Award-nominated Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray hits all the write notes.
Part of the team delivering this sensational show are Sean McClelland, for scenic design, Gene Seyffer, the set coordinator, Ellis Tillman, for designing the costumes with such attention to detail, Patrick Tennent, for the stage’s lighting design, and Alexander Herrin, for providing sound with such clarity that every word and song could be heard clearly.
Hairspray’s assortment of outstanding multifaceted talent brought to the Actors’ Playhouse by David Arisco, culminates in a mixture of comedy, music, ideals, and talented actors. David Arisco, the Actors’ Playhouse Artistic Director, directs and also plays a delicious Edna Turnblad. He brings down the house as he sashays around the stage with gusto. No wonder he is a recipient of the coveted Carbonell Award. Arisco’s Edna, brings forth a substantial appeal, pun intended, to the role. His clear, crisp, booming voice, transcends from the stage to every seat in the theater. To watch his expressive face and hear him belting out a song is sheer joy.
The story in Hairspray is a statement about the 60’s, and how one person can make a change with true conviction and determination. Jolene Mujica, a Miami native, plays Tracy Turnblad, the girl with the big hair and extra pounds, whose dream is to dance in The Corny Collins Show.
Tracy’s obsession with the show inspires her to perform a dancing audition, which earns her a spot in the popular show. Mujica conveys Tracy’s exuberant personality with her dancing and singing and idealistic passion for defending victims of injutice.
Mujica’s timing is superb. Tracy is a happy teenager with a quest to integrate The Corny Collins show. Matthew Ragas, portrays Link Larkin, the cool guy with the swagger, who has all the girls pining for him. Ragas, who has James Dean looks, with a dash of Elvis, can also hold his own in the midst of the other dancers. Celia Merendi bites into the role of Amber von Tussle, with pure relish. She is the shallow girl, only concerned with accomplishing her goal. Merendi’s big hair, wicked smile, and petulant ways, spell out Amber von Tussle. Kim Cozort as Velma von Tussle plays the ruthless woman who will do anything within her means for her daughter to be crowned “Miss Teen Hairspray.” Cozort wears Velda, like a second skin in her serpentine, despicable behavior, shedding it only when it is convenient.
Rounding out the cast is Julie Kleiner, as Penny Singleton, who creates waves of laughter in the scenes she is in. Ronald Duncan, a Miami native, as Seaweed, ignites the audience with his comedic touches. Avi Hoffman, as Wilbur Turnblad. Their chemistry makes their scenes onstage first-class. Avery Sommers, as Motor Mouth Maybelle increases the pizzazz with her dazzling style.
Hairspray in the Actors’ Playhouse will make audiences’ frowns switch to smiles, immobile feet tap to its music, and render a standing ovation for a production that is perfect plus.
Hairspray will play through November 13th, 2011. Evening performances will be held Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with afternoon matinees on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets for weeknights and matinees are $42, and on Friday and Saturday evenings $50. The theatre offers a 10 % senior rate the day of performance and $15 student rush tickets 15 minutes prior to curtain with identification. Discounts are based on availability and exclude Saturday and Sunday.
Group discounted rates are offered for 15 or more through Actors’ Playhouse group sales department. Single tickets may be purchased through the box office at 305-444-9293 or online at www.actorsplayhouse.org