Events are always fun at Walkerville Collegiate and Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts, especially when they put on a show. The school recently wrapped up a stellar performance of the musical Hairspray with high energy performances and standing ovations. But what else would you expect from the nicest kids in town?
The show takes place in 1962 Baltimore centered around quirky, plus-sized, teenager Tracy Turnblad. She has one dream – to dance on The Corny Collins Show. When she gets put in detention with the African-American students in the school, they teach her some of their dance moves, and her new-found groove wins her a spot on Corny’s show. Overnight, Tracy transforms from a nobody into a star, and uses her newfound influence to advocate for racial integration on the television show.
The Tony Award-winning musical continues to be one of the most widely produced musicals today, not only because of its wit and charm, but also because of the beautiful message of acceptance and progress that it portrays. The bright, energetic story teaches us all to look past the color of one’s skin and fight for every human being’s equal rights. In 2007, Hairspray became a successful movie with a star-studded cast led by John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken.
With a fairly large cast, a giant ensemble chorus and a live pit orchestra, the Walkerville Auditorium was just bouncing with performers coming at you from every angle. But for a show like Hairspray, the more the merrier.
Destiny Coulter charmed as Tracy. She had charm, charisma and gave the character the same innocent passion Nikki Blonsky had in the movie. Her voice was also perfect for the role with a distinct clarity and quirky style that made the character the centerpiece of the show. She was joined by Nick Palazzolo who played Tracy’s love interest Link Larkin. He was a strong performer with a babyface smile that suckered the audience in every time he took to the stage.
Karly Green gave Penny a really fun nerdy approach while Dante Scott’s slender frame allowed him to prance around the stage in many dance routines. Other lead cast standouts included Calvin Barrett who made the ugliest Edna Turblad I’d ever seen in my life, but was simply fun to watch, especially when he came out in his new dress from Mr. Pinky’s. Samrah Yohannes gave a gorgeous performance as Motormouth Maybelle, with spectacular vocals. A special shout out goes to Reese Labute who added an over-the-top and super funny slant to Corny Collins that went well beyond James Marsden’s version from the movie – Labute’s take on Corny was far superior to Marsden’s straight-laced TV show host.
The stage was fairly minimalist but allowed cast members to easily switch between locations, while the costumes were especially delightful – particularly the 1960s dresses as they spun through the dance routines. Director Jeff Marontate and choreographers Roger Wellingon and Jennifer Fatallah managed to stage a highly enjoyable show.
The live band and pit chorus, led y Amanda Sands, was phenomenal. Live music always seems to make a show better and this ensemble of more than 20 musicians and singers added to the overall presentation – maybe even too much. The big flaw was the poor audio throughout the show, which suffered from a lack of proper mics (some main characters weren’t even mic’d), a bad general mix and it seemed like the singers always had to compete with the intensity of a live band to be heard, which was hardest to hear during the tender moments. I was pleasantly surprised by the great vocal abilities of the entire cast and chorus and hopefully the next production can improve on the sound.
The Saturday night show we attended was almost triple the size of the audience last year when they hosted Lil’ Abner. If Hairspray is any indication, we may see bigger named shows from WCCA and WCI in the future (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is scheduled for this winter!).
Watch for Moliere’s The Learned Ladies (Nov 23-Dec 1), Chitty (Feb 22 – Mar 2) and the oscure and absurd Rhinoceros (May 3 – 11)., with subscription information to be announced in the future.
Destiny Coulter – Tracy Turnblad
Nick Palazzolo – Link Larkin
Karly Green – Penny Pingleton
Dante Scott – Seaweed
Calvin Barrett – Edna Turnblad
Sylvan Doucet-Lefebvre – Wilbur Turnblad
Samrah Yohannes – Motormouth Maybelle
Trinity Hall – Inez
Reese Labute – Corny Collins
Sarah Misiasz – Velma Von Tussle
Brooke Begley – Amber
Alex Hagen – Prudy Pingleton
John Strahl – Mr. Pinky
Spencer Pearson – Mr. Spritzer
Katie Barsotta – Jail Matron
Seamus Tokol – Principal
Maja Bojoevski – Gym Teacher
Wisline Charelus, Jade Chang and Floretty Etienne – The Dynamites
Tegan West, Alyssa Taylor, Carmen Flores, Leah Larkin, Samantha Tapak, Serena Barr, Alex Vaupotic, Raya Lajoie, Selah Lajoie, Celia Akey, Matthew Riddell, Jacob Zojac-Rivest, Kai Dutton, Phoenicia Cassidy-Boulos, Maya Carter, Qiyani Liu, David Campbell, Ross Cole, Zoe Meunier, Neyat Tesfay, Kyleigh Crosby, Janessa Muise, Jade Chang, Roberto Etienne, Miranda Redmond, Vienne Seto.
Amanda Sands – Conductor
Sarah Preney – Piano
Kyra Biro, Ashton Curtis, Cavelle Doucet Lefebvre, Elizabeth Gibbs, Saxon Hubbert, Grace Johnson, Matthew Lutz, Matthew Molnar, Richard O’Brien, Ava Couvillon, Lexy Dewhirst, Miriam Elsawi, Mallory Hollinsky, Breea Janik, Karson Jubenville, Hannah McCullough, Makayla Morgan, Jade Smit Storey.
Amanda Hanson, Michael Molnar, John Serio.
Madeline Doornaert, Natalie Culmone, Lilly Korkontzelos, Carly Kelly.
Jeff Marontate – Director
Sarah Preney – Vocal Music Director
Roger Wellington, Jennifer Fatallah – Choreography
Sydne Power – Stage Manager
Aidan Robertson – Assistant Stage Manager
Pat Miller, pay Hunter, Clare Kilpatrick, Sandy Singerman – Costumes
Gabriella Johansson – Costume Assistant
Daniel Nolin – Set Design
Jeff Gervais – Construction
Celia Akey, Sydne Power, Alex Hagen, Samrah Yohannes, Jacob Zojac-Rivait, Katie Barsotta, Trinity Hall – Set Painting
Ms. Lavoy’s and Ms. Miller’s Classes – Props
Noah Ball – Lighting
Dave Nisbett, Elspeth McKay – Sound
Hailie Deavy – Hair and Makeup
Joey Acott – Photos
Phoenicia Cassidy-Boulos – Poster
Gail Robertson – Publicity
RoseAnne Palazzolo – Program/Front of House Manager
Walkerville Parent Involvement Committee – Front of House Staff