Theater Review: ‘Hairspray’ at Argyle Theatre, Babylon

By Jonathan Spira on 25 July 2018
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Welcome to Baltimore ca. 1964.  “Hairspray,” an adaptation of John Waters’ 1988 movie of the same name, looks back at rock ‘n’ roll and race relations in the seaport city and recently opened at the renovated Argyle Theatre in Babylon, Long Island.

The Argyle production features a commanding Jason Simon in the role originated by Harvey Fierstein on Broadway (and Divine in the movie) and Katy Geraghty as Tracy Turnblad, the plump teenager who wants to dance on a local television station’s dance program, which was based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show that was taken off the air in 1964 due to its inability to integrate black and white teenage dancers.

Despite her mother’s misgivings Tracy is determined to cut class and audition for the program, so she can campaign for black and white teenagers dancing.

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The show’s villainous and racist producer, Velma von Tussle, played so evilly by Kelsey Youmans, and her equally scheming daughter Amber (Kirby Kunn), have different plans, and hilarity – as well as jail time for Tracy and company – ensues.

There’s an old-fashioned quality to “Hairspray” in part because, in the end, just as in a 1960s black-and-white television sitcom, there will be a life lesson for all and good will prevail over evil.

The faux 60s’ songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman capture the era, sugar-coating and all, and the dance show host Corny Collins (Dustin Maxwell) rightfully calls the dancers “the nicest kids in town.”

In the end, everyone is nice to one another, and the show is the bastion of optimism for a world in need of nice.

THE DETAILS

Hairspray
Argyle Theatre
34 West Main Street
Babylon, N.Y. 11702
RuntimeTwo hours and 15 minutes
www.argyletheatre.com
(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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