Review: Hairspray on Tour gave everything fans wanted and more


Nicole Hasek

Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray performed at Stephens Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 4.

Stephens Auditorium was welcomed to the ‘60s during the performance of the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray.

On Friday night, Niki Metcalf took over the stage as Tracy Turnblad, a spunky, talented singer and dancer with dreams to be on the Corny Collins show. The host of this after-school special was portrayed by Billy Dawson, who succeeded in keeping the audience energetic — along with the ensemble of dancers — with witty jokes and dances to match the time period.

The main cast member of the Corny Collins show is the dreamy Link Larkin, who is embodied by the charismatic and talented Nick Cortazzo.

Andrew Levitt perfectly portrayed the shy but star-worthy personality of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother who is finally encouraged to leave the house after her daughter’s success. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race may better recognize Levitt as drag queen Nina West, who was crowned as Miss Congeniality on season 11.

Levitt proved to be a fan favorite performer, especially in the second half. At this point, Edna’s entrances were spectacular, camp and distracting in the best way. Levitt seemed to channel his drag roots with an over-the-top curly hairdo and dresses covered in sparkles and feathers.

Aside from Edna’s appearance, Levitt proved to be a performer on all levels with his impressive vocals. All of this talent pairs greatly with the chemistry Levitt and Ralph Prentice Daniel have, who plays the quirky Wilbur Turnblad.

Speaking of chemistry, Charlie Bryant III as Seaweed and Emery Henderson as Penny made for a beautiful on-stage couple, a pair I was rooting for since the characters first met.

Amber and Velma Von Tussle, who portray the racism and fatphobia of the decade, are played by Ryahn Evers and Addison Garner, respectively. I find it important to note that Hairspray as a whole has been criticized for its representation of segregation, but Evers and Garner were great choices for these villainous roles.

Evers perfectly emphasizes the stuck up, spoiled side of Amber that audiences love to hate while still giving a performance we can’t take our eyes off of. If viewers didn’t know Garner’s name before, they will after hearing strong vocals paired with her great stage presence during her solo, “Miss Baltimore Crabs.”

The performances that stole the show for me were Sandie Lee as Motormouth Maybelle and Joi D. McCoy as Little Inez. Lee’s powerful song, “I Know Where I’ve Been,” was a highlight of the show, as she sings about the struggles of fighting for equality as a Black woman in America. While playing a young character, McCoy held her own and brought power in song and dance by playing Little Inez.

The endurance of the entire cast is something that amazed me by the end of the show.

Hairspray is known to be filled with high energy and constant movement, and this performance held that standard. Each performer took the closing number, “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” literally by not stopping or missing a beat during the most energetic song of the show. Metcalf impressed me the most with this, as she kept her positivity and energy throughout her large amount of stage time while also hitting every single note for the 12 of 21 songs she was in.