Hairspray @ Cupcake Studios
Book by Mark O’Donell & Thomas Meehan
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics By Marc Shaiman & Scott Witman
Directed by Wendy Rosoff
Hairspray just happens to be one of my favorite musicals.
Brilliant music, hilarious antics and a very profound and important theme. So it was with great anticipation and not a small amount of trepidation that I settled in my seat on opening night at The Cupcake Studio in NoHo.
The house was absolutely packed. Brimming with Cupcake Studio fans, loyal followers from the company’s beginnings in a tiny theatre on Hollywood Blvd. The NoHo theatre holds close to 120 seats and gives the company the opportunity to really let loose, and this particular show is the perfect excuse…as if they really need one.
From the first opening bars, with the excellent house band lifting the roof and the audience swaying and tapping their feet, I knew I had nothing to worry about and that the evening would be wonderful.
Hairspray takes place in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, and quirky, plus-sized, teenage Tracy Turnblad 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 bright, energetic story of Tracy Turnblad teaches us all to look past the color of one’s skin and fight for every human being’s equal rights.
The Cupcake cast of Hairspray is perfection, each and every cast member giving their all, and some. And the wardrobe! Are we on Broadway?? I was just bowled over with the superb attention to every single detail of every single stellar performer.
It’s tough to produce such an iconic show on a smallish stage without a huge Broadway budget, but the wonderful producer, Michael Pettenato, has managed to magically transform this lovely but modest theatre into a venue and a stage worthy of its excellent cast. You can tell from the glowing performances what a thrill it is for these actors to perform these roles.
And the songs! Well, I was singing all the way home I can tell you. The 2007 movie version was pretty fantastic and a high bar for any theatre, but I really think Cupcake brings something even more important to the show than big stars and huge budgets. Cupcake brings an innocent kind of feverish passion to the show, the songs and these wonderfully eccentric characters that populate 1960’s Baltimore, which in turn results in a toe-tapping, bum-wiggling, bursting-to-stand-up and applaud kind of audience reaction. This combination ensures an evening of face aching happiness and laughter.
I can’t help but be thankful that Cupcake chose NoHo as its new home. We are so lucky that it did. This kind of magical enthusiasm and love for the splendor of classic American musicals is just what our theatre district needed.
And I agree with Mr Pettenato when he points out how desperately we all need more Tracy Turblads, now more than ever.
Not only do I recommend Cupcake Studio’s Hairspray, I think every NoHoian should be required to attend…and the rest of LA for that matter!
Hairspray runs from November 11th – December 17th Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 2pm & 8pm.
Cupcake Studios 11020 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601