BIG LAUGHS AT BIG HAIR

Our girl about town was in Fort Worth last night for Hairspray a Casa Manana. Here’s the skinny:

When I was in high school I auditoned to be in the movie Hairspray. I stood in line all night. At 9 a.m., John Waters took one look at me and said, “Too innocent-looking for one of my films.” And that was it. I was crushed. Maybe it was that blocked path to stardom, or maybe it’s that the purist in me generally objects to films being made into musicals, but I have avoided seeing this show since it opened. But my new musical-loving friend pleaded, so we headed to Fort Worth. I try to be the first to admit when I am wrong. So here it is: I was wrong. I do not know the last time I had that much fun in the theater. The cast is, quite simply, amazing. They had huge, fabulous voices and looked like they were having a fantastic time. One stand-out in particular is Caissie Levy as Penny Pingleton. She has the voice and comedic timing that most performers would kill for. She was adorable. The music is great. It’s not great like the truffle fries at Jeroboam. It’s great like the fried twinkies at the State Fair. The show is clever and witty. The costumes and sets are perfect, as are the lighting and sound. And I thought I would pass out when Edna Turnblad (played by J. P. Dougherty) and Wilbur Turnblad (played by Jim J. Bullock–yes, the guy from Too Close For Comfort) sang their duet, “Timeless to Me.” Bullock could not keep a straight face at Dougherty’s antics and absolutely lost it, laughing so hard Dougherty had to improv back into the music. I’m telling you this cast was so full of energy and so talented, I actually forgot they were actors a few times and thought I was watching teenagers in all their meaness and innocence and awkwardness. The script is funny and political and moves at an enviable clip. Nothing could have made me look at my watch. And somehow the show still maintains the John Waters kitsch and raunch that we all know and love. It’s at Bass Hall through Sunday. Oh, and I am not making any promises that I will go see the film that is set to be made of the musical that was made of the movie and is set to star John Travolta as Edna Turnblad (yes, you read that correctly) and Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle. A girl has her limits.

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