Quote of the Day: The song “You Can’t Stop the Beat” was nicknamed “You Can’t Stop to Breathe” by the cast due to the song’s length, the near-nonstop dancing, and the large amount of words sung. from Wikiquotes on the 2007 film of Hairspray.

Not just that song leaves you breathless (audience included), the entire show of Hairspray is high-energy, filled with marvelous dancing, singing, staging, and absolutely delightful characters. The Broadway Tour of Hairspray is at the Ordway in St. Paul, MN through March 17, 2024. The Broadway tour is directed by Matt Lenz. Music and arrangements by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Music Director Lizzie Webb. The show had to delay opening by one day in St. Paul due technical matters with the lighting. The lighting is essential in this show. Tour Lighting Design by Paul Miller, based on the Broadway Design by Kenneth Posner. Gorgeous scenic design by David Rockwell. 

Caroline Eiseman as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway tour of Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

What an absolutely joy-filled cast of Hairspray! Their high-energy, dancing, and enthusiasm are contagious. I brought two college students to this production, and we all loved it. They said they were blown away by the exceptional singing and dancing – especially the fantastic choreography (Robbie Roby, original choreo by Jerry Mitchell) where they were all in sync with each other, the freeze-frame moments and how they smoothly transitioned from one move, or pose, to the next, and their precision in execution of all those fast-paced moves!

Caroline Eiseman is terrific as the always hopeful Tracy Turnblad. She gave a dynamic performance of this sweet character who just loves to dance and thinks that everyone should be allowed to be invited to the party. No separate days or dance areas for Black or White teens, and it shouldn’t matter what size you are or where you live. The musical has a wonderful message.

Greg Kalafatas is charming and hilarious as Tracy’s mom Edna. He knows how to grab attention when it’s his turn and knock the socks off of the audience. Edna is all about being yourself and following your dreams. I love the part where she goes in for a dress fitting and comes out all glamorous and sassy. Such fun. And, ooo, the costumes are gorgeous! (Costumes by William Ivey Long) Ralph Prentice Daniel plays Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy’s dad. He’s also a sweet character who loves his daughter, and just wants people to laugh. He’s the number one supportive dad. 

Greg Kalafatas as Edna Turnblad and Ralph Prentice Daniel as Wilbur Turnblad in the Broadway Tour production of Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Tracy gets inspired to audition for a TV dance show, The Corny Collins Show (like Bandstand), while watching it with her friend Penny Pingleton. Against her mother’s wishes, Tracy goes to the studio to audition. Once she’s learned a few new moves from her friends in detention, the Black kids, particularly Seaweed J. Stubbs (Josiah Rogers), she gets her chance to be on TV. She’s outraged that the Black kids are not allowed to be on at the same time as the White kids. She’s ready to erase those racial barriers, but is met with resistance. 

Cast of the Broadway Tour of Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Velma Von Tussle (played by Emmanuelle Zeesman in the performance I saw) is the ultimate stage mom. (Shout out to her tremendous vocal skills!) She’s trying to get her daughter Amber (Caroline Portner) on camera as much as possible and win her the crown of the dance competition. Amber’s boyfriend Link Larkin (Skyer Shields) starts to notice Tracy, as the rest of the community and viewing world are doing, and it causes problems, naturally.

Kaila Symone Crowder as Little Inez in the Broadway Tour of Hairspray. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

A couple more standouts in this performance are Kaila Symone Crowder as Little Inez, who is a tiny person with a big voice. She knocks it out of the park with her vocals and dancing. Her energy popped and sparkled like the fabulous costumes that she wore! And, Deidre Lang is marvelous as Motormouth Maybelle. She gets one of the few ballads in the show, and performed it to perfection. I thought the audience was going to leap to their feet when she hit the grand finale of her song. Gorgeous!

Hairspray is a big, musical production that lives up to its hype. It has a great message about inclusion told by delightful characters to a fabulous beat. You can’t help but tap your toes and go out singing “You Can’t Stop the Beat!”

You can see the Broadway tour of Hairspray at the Ordway in St. Paul, MN through March 17, 2024. Check their website for productions in a city near you, and keep on fighting for the good causes that bring us all together. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are you most enthusiastic about?