The Players’ version teems with cheer. The young, talented cast imbues the production with a freshness that proves smile (and laugh) inducing throughout. The musical also serves as a reminder of how society has changed for the better — and can continue to improve if we all embrace the winning spirit of fearless hero Tracy Turnblad.
Set in Baltimore, 1962, “Hairspray” adroitly tackles race relationships, body image issues and the generation gap of the era without ever feeling preachy. It’s a smart, delightful musical with a positive message about acceptance. The Players hit the right note on practically every jubilant number and busy but well-executed scene — especially nailing the overall brilliance of the deceptively simple tale of early ‘60s youth culture.
|Kyle Ann Lacertosa BY PAUL VIDELA|
Lacertosa exudes charming innocence and warmth as the lead. She’s the performing arts teacher at Cardinal Mooney High School and has directed numerous performances on the Mooney stage. The diminutive star has adorably young facial features and easily passes for a teenager all the while bringing the acting and vocal chops of a veteran/educator.
Rizzo, a junior at Manatee High, holds her own as the ultimate mean girl. She relishes her role as the bratty beauty, singing and delivering her lines with near pitch perfect cattiness. And by the end, Rizzo even makes us sympathize with her a bit, which is quite an accomplishment given her treatment of Tracy.
Bajjaly had no problem generating big guffaws as Edna while Phyliss Banks proved terrific as the rhyming Motormouth Maybelle. The ensemble, meanwhile, added significantly to the wonderfully orchestrated dance numbers that fill the room with intoxicating verve.
Credit director and choreographer Rick Kerby for a pretty much spot-on staging that sustains its gleeful momentum from start to finish. Implementing superbly minimal, funky scenery designed by Donna Buckalter, killer period costumes by Jared Walker and a first-rate community cast, the Manatee Players’ artistic director has created a highly recommended crowd-pleaser with wit and a heart as big as its hair.
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