Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of seeing Hairspray put on by the wonderful cast and crew of MUSKET, an entirely student-run organization on campus devoted to musical theatre performance. It was spectacular! From the moment the brilliantly yellow curtain lifted above the stage, those drum beats playing that familiar rhythm, Tracy Turnblad tromped onto stage in all her sassy glory crying, “Good morning, Baltimore!” It was fantastic.
Everyone was so marvelously well cast. Tracy, played by rising-star sophomore Hillary Ginsberg, was magnificent. She played the role with enough sympathy and sang the notes with so much purity, the audience was greatly moved. Other highlights included Kaci Friss, playing the role of Penny Lou Pingleton, Tracy’s beloved and quirky best friend. Her awkward demeanor yet startling vocals were perfect for the role. Link Larkin, played by Mackenzie Or, sophomore BFA Musical Theatre student, winked and flashed the audience with his shnazzy style. He had many a girl slumped in her seat, swooning over his gorgeous pipes. And of course, Motor Mouth Maybelle was positively stellar, played by junior BFA Acting Performance major Melissa Golliday. Her performance of “I know where I’ve been” brought many audience members to tears.
It was interesting to discuss this performance with a friend of mine who’d seen in Friday evening. She said that she loved the production, of course, and the talent was incredible; however, she was struck by the plot. As she saw it, it was just another example of the white girl saving the day because she saw the black kids of the neighborhood “cool.” I thought she had a fair point and I admit to not having thought of it that way before she pointed it out. After the show, I felt as if the musical itself deals with the intense subject of African American segregation in America in the 1960s fairly well and leaving us with an overall positive message. Upon further reflection, I can see her point, but it is unclear to me how much they can do to absolve the issue within such an upbeat context.
All and all, major kudos to the production team of MUSKET. Heads up for their upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors next semester! Can’t wait!!
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