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Performing Arts

‘Hair’ styles

Lyric Theatre gets all done up for its production of the upbeat musical comedy ‘Hairspray.’

Phil Bacharach July 6th, 2011

7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker 297-2264

Inspired by the 1988 film by camp cult icon John Waters, “Hairspray” was reborn in 2002 as a Tony-winning Broadway musical. Following in the footsteps of “The Producers” in an example of Ouroboros-like creative cannibalism, the Broadway adaptation of “Hairspray” was made into a fairly entertaining movie in 2007.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, “Hairspray” follows the adventures of an unlikely teen celebrity, idealistic Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair, a big voice and big fashion-model dreams. In the process of pursuing that goal, she wins the affection of heartthrob Link Larkin and leads the town into a new era of racial integration.

Director and choreographer Lyn Cramer returns to Lyric to helm this production. Cramer, who considers herself a huge Waters fan, loved the original movie and fell in love all over again when she saw the Broadway adaptation.

“It’s as close to perfect as a big, splashy, fun musical can be,” she said.

In addition to the normal time crunch on a summer stock show, she said this production has been additionally challenging because the material is new to everyone involved, save for Liz Froio, who has played Tracy twice before.

With all that experience under her belt, Froio has gotten to know the character pretty well.

“Having now worked with three different directors, there are always unique things that they’d like to see,” she said. “I have a ‘Tracy template,’ and fill in the blanks based on the vibe of the show and that particular cast, but my Tracy intentions are always the same.”

She said Tracy is the perfect lead role for a character actress like herself.

“Tracy gets the guy, wins the prize, changes her world and the worlds of everyone around her. She is  the ultimate leading lady,” Froio said. “Her imperfections make her perfect, and I absolutely adore the character.”

Actor Erick Devine, a 35-year Lyric veteran, takes on the iconic role of Tracy’s mother, Edna, a part originated by drag queen Divine in Waters’ film and played by John Travolta in the remake.

Cramer described the “Hairspray” score as delightful and inherently inspirational, boasting a number of catchy tunes that set it apart from other screen-to-stage re-imaginings.

“‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ is absolutely infectious. If you’ve ever dreamed of the love of your life, you can’t get better than ‘I Can Hear the Bells.’ If gospel is your thing, Motormouth Maybelle sings her socks off in ‘I Know Where I’ve Been,’” Cramer said.

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