By TATUM MAPES
“Hey there sophomores and sophomores at heart!” This line, spoken by Anthony Morgan, a senior playing the energetic TV show host Corny Collins, perfectly sums up the fun feel of the Redlands East Valley Players’ most recent production, “Hairspray: The Broadway Musical.” The energetic period piece about the plus-sized Tracy Turnblad, played by senior Danni Harman, fighting segregation in her local television station left audiences laughing and cheering for its four-show run from March 8 to 11.
From “Good Morning Baltimore” to “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” audiences were greeted with a bomb of happiness and joy lighting up the stage. Much of the comedy was delivered with perfect timing. The rather large cast was filled with returning choir and thespian veterans, as well as some new faces.
Standout performances included Danni Harman who, despite being in her very first show, portrayed the lead of Tracy Turnblad with high energy, beautiful vocals and lots of expression. Senior Gavin Duran, who portrayed Tracy’s goofy but confident father, wasdefinitely an audience favorite, along with Junior Savanna (Savy) Lux, who played the sassy and progressive Motormouth Maybelle with enough soul to fill the entire theater. It was nearly impossible to think that this was the first theatrical appearance of senior Hayley Lane, who portrayed Edna Turnblad. Her and Gavin Duran’s onstage chemistry was a huge highlight of the show and garnered much audience approval. Elizabeth Solis’ portrayal of the bratty Amber von Tussle and Taylor Gonzalez’s performance as her mother Velma gave theatergoers a satisfyingly villainous pair to route against, with powerhouse vocals that incited massive cheers every night. Even the minor characters, like the flamboyant Mr. Pinky, played by Richard Trejo, and the Nicest Kids In Town, played by ensemble members, were portrayed with as much zest as the actors playing the leads. Jade Carlin, a freshman who was one of the Nicest Kids In Town, said that it was “an amazing experience to work in a bigger theatre with so many positive people. What stood out was the energy from the other dancers.”
Colorful sets, painted by REV’s art students, transformed the ordinary black stage into what could only be described as Baltimore crashing into a rainbow. Large set pieces such as a giant can of “Ultra Clutch” hairspray and the sparkling “Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway,” caused many “oohs and aahs” from the audience.
Overall, REV’s “Hairspray” brought some life back into its theater program, and hopes are high for future productions to arrive in the Blackstone Theater.