Previews: Hairspray

  • Photo by Barb Young
From the February 21, 2013 edition

The kind of strict fiscal responsibility required of theater shows nowadays left Joe Bishara “underestimating the power of a large cast musical,” he said. Thus, the SRO Theatre Company — in association with CATCO — production of “Hairspray” Bishara is currently directing has been a nice change of pace.

The cast (which includes one Actors’ Equity Association member, the imitable Frank A. Barnhart, who plays the mother of Hairspray’s heroine with a heart and waist-line five times the average size, Edna Turnblad) numbers in the forties, meaning more voices, dancers and enthusiasm to fill the stage. Apropos of a story where bigger is better.

In “Hairspray,” a “pleasantly plump” girl with a huge hairstyle named Tracy Turnblad dances her way through her town’s 1960s-era racism and into the hearts of all. The SRO show’s set is sparse but the dancing and acting are superb, Bishara said, just as it should be. The story of overcoming social injustice means so much more than the big hair.

“This story in particular deserves to be told,” Bishara said.

The fact that it’s endlessly entertaining is pomade on the pompadour.