Best of Springfield

Best Theater Production

Hairspray

click to enlarge PHOTO BY TOM ZOSCHKE
Photo by Tom Zoschke

BEST THEATER PRODUCTION 
Hairspray at The Legacy Theatre


In 18 performances over four weeks this past July, The Legacy Theatre presented this amazing version of Hairspray, acknowledged by our readers as the best theater production of 2019. The stage setup was staggering in size, including hundreds of costumes, wigs and props, as well as breathtaking choreography (literally, say the players) and a good deal of determination to put on a show that might be considered a bit controversial by certain folks in the community. Scott Richardson, overall director of the show and executive director of the Legacy, thrives on challenges and considers this performance, “as big a show as we have ever done,” and that’s saying a lot from this bunch. From purchasing and restoring the rundown theater to staging regional debuts of fresh national musicals, Richardson has always taken the road less traveled and we are all the better for his ambition and success.

Originally a 1988 film by John Waters set in Baltimore in 1962, Hairspray hit Broadway as a musical in 2003. The play became a popular, if daunting, performance piece that not only depicts basic human struggles, but deals with race and gender issues to do much more than just tell a good story. Perhaps the depth of the script helped our readers in their decision to reward the Legacy, but most certainly strong performances by cast members had a bearing as well.

Ed MacMurdo, one of only six adults in the play along with several younger actors, received community accolades for playing the part of Edna, the mother of Tracy, the teenage girl who is the focus of the show. Edna is traditionally portrayed in drag ever since Waters cast female impersonator Divine in the original movie, and Ed, as Edna, learned to dance well in high heels while wearing dresses with extra padding to achieve the look of a middle-aged, matronly mother. Other cast members deserving recognition include Ainsley Chandler as Tracy Turnblad, Samantha Mool as Penny Pingleton, Jeremiah Brown as Link Larkin and Tiffany Williams as Motormouth Maybelle, along with several other supporting roles behind the curtain and on the stage.

Congratulations to the creative crew at The Legacy Theatre for this show and also for their many other progressive productions, including the recent, regional debut of the Tony Award-winning musical, Bright Star.

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