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REVIEW: Hairspray is a Timely Reminder that Tolerance Never Goes Out of Style! #Hairspray @attpac

Hairspray is a satisfying confection

While waiting for the doors to open at the Winspear Opera House on Hairspray’s opening night in Dallas, Lyft offered theater goers complimentary Pop Rock macarons. Much to my delight, these hot pink confections were surprisingly satisfying rather than sickeningly sweet.

Those pastries made the perfect pairing for Hairspray, because from the moment the curtain rose until the last curtain call, this musical blends fast-paced fun with a cast of quirky characters who, much like a hot pink Pop Rock macaron, create a surprisingly satisfying experience.

Michelle Dowdy as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray - photo (c) Paxton Maroney
Michelle Dowdy as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray – photo (c) Paxton Maroney

What’s Hairspray about?

Hairspray takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in the year 1962. The story centers on Tracy Turnblad, a plus-sized high school girl who is bullied by the popular kids.

Tracy finds solace in a teen dance program called the Corny Collins show. Every day after school, she races home to watch it on TV. As Tracy relentlessly pursues her passion to be a dancer on the show, her naive dreams collide with the conflicts of the times and she ends up fighting for racial integration along the way.

Unabashedly bold and cheery, Michelle Dowdy (who has played the character on Broadway) is perfectly cast as Tracy Turnblad. You can’t help but smile as Dowdy convincingly exudes Tracy’s boundless optimism.

Reminder that we’re ALL quirky

Tracy’s mother, Edna, is a key figure in the story, as well. Since Divine originated the role of Edna Turnblad in the 1988 movie version, it’s been traditional for a man to portray Tracy’s mom. Aside from wearing a fat suit and a dress, David Coffee doesn’t try to feminize Edna. While that definitely creates many comedic moments, it’s also part of what makes the character feel genuine.

Tracy’s mom is an agoraphobic laundress and her father, Wilbur, runs a joke shop called the Har de Har Hut. Wilbur Turnblad is capably portrayed by Bob Reed, and the chemistry between him and Edna is sweet and funny.

The Turnblads are a quirky family, but aren’t all families a bit quirky when you examine them closely? By magnifying their eccentricities to a nearly cartoonish degree, Hairspray playfully reminds us that we’re all a bit wacky when you get right down to it.

And despite their odd facade, the Turnblads are a loving family. So although Tracy’s adventures force her to make some tough moral choices, she is able to choose the right path. Why? Because her parents haven’t simply told  her to be a good person, they have shown her how to be a good person.

Michelle Dowdy as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray - photo (c) Paxton Maroney
Michelle Dowdy as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray – photo (c) Paxton Maroney

Timely even though set in 1962

There are so many messages in Hairspray about family, equality, love, and acceptance. In a time when hate speech and bigotry have made such a resurgence, I truly felt like this upbeat show was a tonic for my soul. Bottomline: Bouffants may come & go, but Hairspray reminds us that tolerance never goes out of style!

All that aside, Hairspray is jam-packed with great tunes and choreography. Since the story takes place in 1962, the songs reflect early 1960’s dance music, rhythm and blues, and gospel. The entire cast is great, and there were so many times during the show that I just wanted hop out of my seat and join the dancers. (And I know I wasn’t the only one, because at times, our whole row was moving due to audience members bopping along in their seats!)

Grab your tickets now!

I could go on, but this is a short run show and I want to get a review posted fast. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for something to lift your spirits, grab your tickets to Hairspray – pronto! (Use the promo code BALTIMORE for discounted tickets!)

See Hairspray in Dallas:

Where: AT&T Performing Arts Center/Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Tickets: Check availability and book online at the AT&T Performing Art Center official website.
Runtime: Runs for 2 1/2 hrs, with a 15-minute intermission.

PLEASE NOTE: While tickets were provided for review purposes, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.

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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”

Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.

Snider has several more books in progress, and enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website: TuiSnider.com.

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