Robinson’s ‘Hairspray’ displays robust vocals and orchestration, inventive tech to deliver compelling message


(Sarah Irving)
June 3, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

AnnaLin Woo, a student at Bishop Ireton High School , reviews ‘Hairspray’ performed by Robinson Secondary School as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

 “If somethin’ is worth having, then it’s worth fightin’ for!” A dramatic yet real portrayal of the struggles of “regular people” and the fight for equality, Robinson Secondary’s production of Hairspray thoroughly entertained and delighted.

Created as a societal commentary on prejudice and integration, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the original Broadway production of Hairspray opened in 2002. It won 8 Tony awards, and closed seven years later after more than 2,500 performances.

Tracy Turnblad (the main character renowned for her “huge hair don’t”), played by the bubbly Hannah Sikora, delivered her lines with a cheerful energy that only increased as time went on.  Bouncing around the stage, Sikora embodied Tracy masterfully. Close by her side was Jamie Green as Link Larkin, the popular Elvis-like crooner who becomes Tracy’s romantic interest after the humorous “I Can Hear The Bells.”

The entire ensemble worked smoothly as a whole, delivering remarkable renditions of popular songs and accompanied by a live orchestra. Conducted by Jamie Tucker, the orchestra was noteworthy not only for the sheer number of musicians in it, but the fact that the majority of them are students at Robinson.

Other standouts of the cast include Katie Rogers (Penny Pingleton), Ivonte Milligan (Seaweed J Stubbs), Jackson Viccora and Spencer Boyd (Edna and Wilbur Turnblad), and Michael Lamar (Seaweed’s mother Motormouth Maybelle). Rogers’ striking vocals and humorous actions as Tracy’s best friend Penny greatly added to each musical number, and her on-stage romance with Milligan’s character Seaweed charmed the audience (as did Milligan’s accomplished dance moves). Just as delightful, if not as youthful, was the relationship between Viccora and Boyd as Tracy’s parents Edna and Wilbur. “(You’re) Timeless To Me,” the duet between the two, was pulled off with a good amount of fun and slightly raunchy jokes. Lastly (but definitely not least), Lamar brought down the house with his soulful rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been”, reflecting on the racial equality struggle of the time period.

The adaptable set, designed by Emily Rowson and Katie Kuzin, featured two turntables that changed to suggest everything from the interior of a 1960’s home to the back of a recording studio. It shone under Anna Ready’s lighting design, which skillfully added bright colors to the show without distracting from the action. Period-era costumes, complete with full gathered dresses, pastel suit jackets, and teased hair, also helped to send the audience back to the 60’s, courtesy of chief of costumes Sydney Lykins.

The stage crew kept the few scene changes running smoothly, and although a few mic issues popped up during the show, the cast admirably continued without pause. The overall energy of the show was high, and each performer stayed in character throughout.

Full of vocal talent and entertaining one-liners, Robinson’s Hairspray deserved the standing ovation it received.

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