Hey hon! You don't want to miss this show about those nicest kids in town from Baltimore!
The Reservoir High School Theatre Arts Department in Howard County, Maryland is proud to present their Spring production, Hairspray. “You can’t stop the beat” of larger-than-life Tracy Turnblad, who will sing and dance her way into your heart and onto the scene, while she fights for racial equality in Baltimore in the 1960's. Welcome to the 60's in the famous musical created by Baltimore's own John Waters. A live orchestra accompanies the cast of sixty high energy performers. The singing, dancing and the music are contagious in this uplifting story of racial integration in Baltimore in the '60s.
"You can't stop the beat!"
Hairspray runs April 1-2 and 7-9 at 7pm, plus a matinee performance Sunday April 3 at 2pm(including a Sign Language Interpreter). Ticket prices are $12 General Admission & $8 Student Admission with the Saturday matinee at $10 General Admission, $6 Students. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, or online at www.seatyourself.biz/reservoir. Reservoir High School’s Theatre is located at 11550 Scaggsville Road, Fulton, MD 20759 in Howard County. Call (410) 888-8850 for more information.
Big hair, big women, and lots and lots of hairspray. Welcome to the 60s, or rather, Reservoir High School’s auditorium this past weekend as they took audiences back 50 years to a time of great changes in our next door neighbor, Baltimore. Hairspray is the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with enormous hair, and a gigantic heart who has integration on her brain. She auditions and is chosen for an opening on the biggest young adult dance show, The Corny Collins Show. Overnight, Tracy is the latest teen craze, with girls everywhere sporting her stiff do, and gyrating in ways only Tracy Turnblad could make popular. But can one young teenager conquer the evil Amber Von Tussle, win over heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate TV, all without denting her “do?” Reservoir’s Hairspray showed us just how she could do that.
The first thing any audience could notice was the amazing set. The main part of the stage was dominated by the city of Baltimore. The angles used to make the buildings gave the illusion of a long street that the cast used to dance and sing around. The reverse side transported us to many other sites, like the studio of The Corny Collins Show, Motormouth Maybelle’s record shop, and the Har-De-Har Hut. In the corner of the stage lived the Turnblad residence. Complete with Edna’s ironing board and a lit-up television, transitions were made easily into these different settings.
Helping give each set its own flavor was the lighting. As scenes and sets changed, so did the overall flare of each site because each place seemed to have a different color to it. The lighting team continued to wow the audience as it put us in a thunderstorm, and used silhouette lighting to create the Baltimore Women’s House of Detention in “The Big Doll House.”
Without the lights, we would have never seen the costumes. The clothes in this musical were straight out of the 60s, but the real challenge laid in making Matt Acquard, a boy, into Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. The costume team did a fantastic job with this, making sure to keep the humor of Edna with her fuzzy slippers.
The entire cast of this show had amazing energy and kept the audience interested throughout. Even at times when certain leads were not the focus, they fell into the background gracefully while keeping in character and making sure to entertain at all times. The leads of the show did just that, they led the entire cast through the deep racial troubles of the sixties. Motormouth Maybelle and her young dancer Seaweed (Ashli Kolowale and Daniel Ayoola) showed the audience the pains and joys of being black in the early 60s. Link Larkin (Eric Meehan), the hunky crooner, proved to the audience why his nickname was “the new Elvis.” Amber and Velma Von Tussle (Audrey Simmons and Becky Lamich) showed the audience that mean girls don’t win in the end. Penny Pingleton (Allison Bradbury) provided the audience with so much comedy that at the end, when she announced that she was a “checkerboard chick,” the entire audience was cheering her on. Wilbur and Edna Turnblad made the audience fawn with their beautifully hilarious love song, “Timeless to Me.” And Tracy Turnblad (Ichniowski) showed us that everyone’s opinion matters and anyone can make a difference.
Reservoir’s Hairspray took the audience to a time of struggle and prejudice in Baltimore, and reminded us to tell everyone who tries to keep us down that “you can’t stop the beat!”
Sorry Corny Collins, but “the only thing better than hairspray” is Reservoir High School’s production of Hairspray where you can see “the nicest kids in town” light up the stage.
Hairspray is the twentieth longest-running show on Broadway and had its Broadway premiere on August 15, 2002 at the Neil Simon Theatre. Hairspray won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Actress in a Musical.
The show opens with the song “Good Morning Baltimore” and begins its story with protagonist Tracy Turnblad waking up and starting her day. Tracy goes to school but gets detention and later that day hears that her favorite dance show, the Corny Collins Show, is holding auditions. The story follows Tracy as she tries to audition and fit in with the dog-eat-dog world of television stardom and addresses issues of racism in 1960s Baltimore City.
The female leads anchored the show with their strong voices. Tracy Turnblad (Stephanie Ichniowski) had an excellent voice and she performed enthusiastically throughout the show. Her voice truly shined on songs such as “Good Morning Baltimore,” “I Can Hear the Bells,” and “Without Love.” Motormouth Maybelle (Ashli Kolowale) also performed superbly and commanded the stage on her songs “Big Blonde and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.”
Edna Turnblad was played by a male actor, as is the tradition with the show. Matthew Acquard, who played the part, did an absolutely fantastic job. His voice and accent were outstanding and he was able to combine a woman’s voice and a Baltimore accent perfectly well. His mannerisms were also very well-refined playing a 1960s housewife.
The male leads were also very strong. Link Larkin (Eric Meehan) was fantastic and he performed amazingly on songs “It Takes Two” and “Without Love.” Seaweed J. Stubbs (Daniel Ayoola) had exceptional dance moves and sang well on his song “Run and Tell That.” Dan Singer conveyed the attitude and personality of Corny Collins well and his song “Hairspray” was extremely entertaining.
Although there were some technical difficulties with the sound system in the beginning, the actors stayed focused, pulled through and still delivered a solid performance.
Besides the actors themselves, the lighting, set, costumes, and choreography all came together to greatly enhance the show. The lighting was multicolored and used designs such as clouds and flowers to accent certain aspects of the show. The most spectacular example of lighting came at the end of the show in the number “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” The choreography was spectacular throughout the show but “The Big Doll House” showcased the entire ensemble dancing to the rhythm together. The set and costumes added small touches to the show that really portrayed the time period and setting well with clothes and rooms that resembled the 1960s.
Hairspray sends a strong message about the importance of equality and voice and how people need to stand up for what is right and what they believe in, even if it is hard because that is what our nation was built upon, strong people with strong voices who turned their thoughts into actions
Reservoir’s production of this “larger than life” show is truly something spectacular and since “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” you might as well, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Reservoir High School’s Hairspray – The Beat Lives On
Reservoir High School proved that they couldn’t “stop the beat” with their exuberant performance of the Tony-award-winning musical Hairspray. With impeccable sets, innovative lighting, soulful vocals, and a ton of personality, the Reservoir High School drama department gave the audience a true taste of 1960s Baltimore in this exciting and entertaining musical.
Reservoir’s production took much inspiration from the original Broadway production of Hairspray that opened in 2002. Based on the 1988 movie, Hairspray centers around plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad (Stephanie Ichniowski). Tracy becomes the newest dancer on The Corny Collins Show, based on Baltimore’s real-life Buddy Deane Show that aired in the early 1960s. Though she faces strife from conniving producer Velma von Tussle (Becky Lamich) and her obsequious daughter Amber (Audrey Simmons), who scoff at Tracy’s size and fight to steer the show in “the white direction,” Tracy has the support of her bawdy mother Edna (Matthew Acquard), visionary father Wilbur (Andrew Rayo), and ditzy best friend Penny Pingleton (Allison Bradbury), along with a budding romance with dancer Link Larkin (Eric Meehan). Blending serious issues of segregation and injustice with upbeat songs and dance numbers, Hairspray truly captures the culture of the 1960s.
The professionalism of Reservoir’s performance echoed that of the Broadway production, with sets and choreography inspired by the original. Actors took the stage with unparalleled enthusiasm, and even the show’s villains were hard not to like. Bright vocal harmonies, synchronized dancing, and expert comedic timing kept the audience intrigued.
Ichniowski truly captured the spirit of Tracy Turnblad. Her clear, strong voice shone effortlessly, especially in “I Can Hear the Bells” and “Without Love.” Ichniowski genuinely portrayed Tracy’s passion for integration and acceptance, and she maintained her energy throughout the show, always keeping a smile on her face. In keeping with the tradition of casting a man as Edna, Acquard delivered with hilarious deadpan and sarcastic wisecracks. Lamich and Simmons captured the manipulative nature of the von Tussle mother-daughter team, cracking jokes dripping with sarcasm. The female leads had a seamless vocal blend, as demonstrated in the number “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” featuring Tracy, Edna, Amber, Velma, Penny, and Prudy. Synchronized blocking made this number one of the show’s standouts.
Energy is key to a good ensemble, and Reservoir’s ensemble had energy and talent in abundance. The eleven “Nicest Kids in Town” showcased personality and attitude, and the sharp dance moves of the entire ensemble were flawless. Instead of squeezing their large ensemble onstage, Reservoir made use of the aisles and a walkway around the pit, giving the actors extra room and a chance to connect with the audience.
Most notably, excellent tech anchored the show. In the opening number “Good Morning, Baltimore,” Ichniowski “woke up” from an upright bed that, when revolved, also served as her front door. The Turnblads’ small living room was located downstage right, allowing the audience to view both Corny Collins’ studio and the Turnblads’ reactions to the show simultaneously. Reservoir utilized a slightly transparent curtain to create a dreamy feeling of atmosphere in numbers such as “Without Love.” Wilbur’s Har-de-Har Hut Joke Shop, one of the show’s most complex sets, even featured a Rube Goldberg machine that closed the door, along with other unique contraptions. Colorful, groovy flower-shaped lights set the mood for the downtown scenes, and the intense changes of lighting were especially effective in “The Big Dollhouse” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.” Authentic, vibrant costumes and big, bold hair remained true to the 1960s, and the fat suits worn by Tracy, Edna, and Motormouth Maybelle looked realistic. An exceptional pit band laid the foundation for the show’s music numbers. With the exception of microphone feedback in the opening number, Hairspray’s tech was flawless.
Hairspray’s stellar cast and fun choice of a musical encapsulated everything that a high school musical should be. Reservoir students proved that they are some of the “nicest kids in town” with this energetic and vivacious production of one of Broadway’s most lively musicals.
The sixties were an important time for America, with important changes taking place towards integration. Hairspray, performed by Reservoir High School, brings to stage the story of a 1960's Baltimore as local teenagers try to integrate the city.
The tale of Hairspray begins with a young schoolgirl, Tracy Turnblad, who is mocked by her classmates for her appearance, but wants nothing more than to become a star by dancing on The Corny Collins Show. Her mother, Edna, is hesitant at first, but in supporting her daughter becomes confident in her own appearance. Meanwhile, The Corny Collins Show suffers management problems as the conniving producer, Velma Von Tussle fights to keep the show all-white while Tracy and her friends try to integrate it.
The main characters go through many struggles in this musical. Tracy (Stepanie Ichniowski) works to get on the show, with opposition from nearly everyone on the show, and tries her hardest to bring integration to television. She is played with excitement and confidence, which connects greatly with the character. Her mother (Matthew Acquard) is portrayed with hesitance, but exuberance which fits the progression of her character. Tracy and Edna are inspiring characters, teaching the message that appearance doesn't matter when you follow your dreams, and are played as such by the actors.
The supporting actors and ensemble were key to this musical. Tracy's best friend, Penny (Allison Bradbury), is always there for Tracy, and provides a lot of humor in fighting with her overbearing mother and finding herself alongside her friend. Link (Eric Meehan) also experiences a change as he decides who he truly loves. The ensemble also provides a good backup to the main action on stage. Everyone in the ensemble showed enthusiasm in their dancing and singing, bringing a realistic element to the stage.
Lighting and sound effects was an additional element that improved the play. They added to the mood during scenes, such as in Maybelle's Record Shop. The lighting mimicked lightning and police car lights, and the sound effects provided thunder and the sound of police sirens. There were sound issues, but the actors projected their voices enough to be heard, and they were corrected later in the duration of the play.
Hairspray is a portrait of a dark time in America, when people were separated based solely on appearance. But the message that the play has isn't just relevant to the time period. Hairspray, performed by Reservoir High School this year, teaches the message that no matter what you look like, you should fight for what you believe in.