Home Musical score Review: New National “Hairspray” Tour Shines in Post-Pandemic San Diego Revival

Review: New National “Hairspray” Tour Shines in Post-Pandemic San Diego Revival


After 625 days of closure linked to the pandemic, Broadway San Diego on Tuesday relaunched its national touring season at the San Diego Civic Theater with the musical “Hairspray”.

Although “Hairspray” has been seen a number of times in San Diego since it premiered on Broadway in 2002 – both on tour at the Civic and on local theater stages – it looks brand new and perfectly crafted for this moment. San Diego is the first step in this sparkling new touring production, which received a new look and feel from Jack O’Brien, the former artistic chef of the Old Globe San Diego, who won a Tony Award in 2003 for his work on “Hairspray.”

As always, “Hairspray” is a jubilant, effervescent and very funny musical comedy with a superb score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. But in the wake of the Black Lives Matter 2020 movement, it looks more timely than ever. And its theme of unifying positivity offers a nice break with the combative divisions that have marked this country over the past five years.

Based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, the musical is the 1962 story of Tracy Turnblad, a perky and plump Baltimore teenager, who plans to make “The Corny Collins Show” the nightclub program. all-white TV dances of the city. His progressive ideas horrify the white status quo, but they are greeted by Motormouth Maybelle, which hosts the only show each month where a black host and teenage dancers are allowed to air.

On Wednesday night, the crowd close to the Civic’s capacity roared their support during the moments in history when the subject of equality was brought up. But every time the Motormouth Maybelle character – played by Toneisha Harris, a Season 18 finalist of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ competition series – started singing, the crowd exploded, especially during her inspirational-themed ballad. civil rights “I know where I’ve been.” Harris is a gifted singer who performs both with power and grace.

Another reality TV contestant Andrew Levitt from season 11 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” wins hearts as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad. Levitt, whose drag alter-ego is Nina West, plays awkward housewife Edna with vulnerability and subtlety. Niki Metcalf’s bubbling performance as the ever-optimistic Tracy gives the show a relentless sparkling energy. And Brandon G. Stalling is cool and confident as black teenage dance sensation Seaweed J. Stubbs.

The show looks smart, with colorful digital projections, fresh costumes, and energetic dance numbers choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, who won a Tony in 2003 for his work. O’Brien added some topical touches to this tour, including a comic that nods to the turmoil of the 2020 election, and there’s even a funny local reference to the town of Escondido. . But the series’ themes of prejudice, segregation and racism have always been present in the script, they feel more relevant than ever.

‘Hair spray’

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. 8 p.m. Friday. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday. 1 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. Sunday.

Or: San Diego Civic Theater, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego.

Tickets: $ 35 to $ 120

In line: broadwaysd.com

COVID protocol: Proof of full vaccination required or negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the show or rapid antigen test performed by a healthcare professional within 12 hours of the show. Masks compulsory inside.