Hairspray by The Hill School in Pottstown, PA
March 3, 2020
Review submitted by Kyra Keenan of Upper Merion Area High School
The Hill School’s production of Hairspray will certainly welcome you to the 60’s!
The show opens in Baltimore, a city that was still dealing with segregation issues in the 1960s. “The Corny Collins Show” is every teen’s muse in the musical. Among these teenagers, Tracy Turnblad falls for a star on the show, Link Larkin. Tracy sneaks onto the show and becomes an overnight superstar. Throughout the musical, Tracy fights for equality with her newfound fame.
The show was overflowing with energy from the cast and there was never a dull moment on stage. No matter the mood of the scenes, the cast was accurately able to translate it to the audience. All of the actors and actresses stayed in character, creating a time machine to the 60’s.
Tracy Turnblad, played by Greta Haverstick, displayed outstanding vocals with the opening number “Good Morning Baltimore.” All of her sung lines were clear and could be heard while she was rocking out with the other members of the cast. She easily captured Tracy’s desire for equality and the boldness of the character. Link Larkin, played by Matthew Saylor, did an excellent job demonstrating Link’s confidence. He participated in the lively dances during the show with the Corny Collins Council. The two leads had admirable chemistry and performed well as a pair.
Naomi Ude, playing Motormouth Maybelle, had multiple jaw-dropping vocal performances in the musical. She stole the show in difficult numbers such as, “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been,” with her beautiful voice. Anna Gvodas’ performance as Penny Pingleton matched perfectly to Tracy’s, which made for a realistic-looking friendship. She was able to capture Penny’s excitement and nerves at the same time. The entire ensemble on “The Corny Collins Show” had exceptionally high energy, which they stayed true to in each scene. They reacted to all of the leads’ actions and each maintained a unique personality that lasted through the entire performance. The ensemble really shone through in the numbers, “The Nicest Kids in Town” and “Hairspray.”
The set was designed with mobile platforms that demonstrated multiple locations at once. The characters used “Ultra Clutch Hairspray” props which created spray effects during the performance. The cast persisted through any sound issues with projection and high energy and overcame any major distractions.
Hairspray at The Hill School seems “Timeless to Me” for sure!
Review submitted by Patrick McCann of Harriton High School
This just in! Tune in to The Hill School’s channel, where big stars with big hair and even bigger egos are welcoming a whole new kind of dancer: one “who looks just like you!”
This weekend, The Hill School delivered a crowd-pleasing production of Hairspray, paying homage to the civil rights movement and counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. When dance-enthusiast Tracy Turnblad auditions for the Corny Collins Show (a behind-the-times TV special that steers kids in the “white” direction), she rockets into overnight stardom. But when scheming producer Velma and her bratty daughter challenge Tracy’s opinions, she becomes a voice for the oppressed, proving that big and “colored” people can be big and colorful stars.
With flashing lights, fog-machines, and massive girders, The Hill School made the auditorium feel like a concert arena. The actors took that concert aesthetic and ran with it, jamming out with the audience with their powerful vocals and infectiously energetic dancing.
Greta Haverstick led the cast as the “pleasantly plump” Tracy, skillfully maintaining her plucky optimism and strong belt despite being a primary vocalist in eight different songs. Liam Keenan left the audience in stitches with his hilarious portrayal of Edna, performing the show’s difficult dance numbers while in heels and full drag!
Matthew McCray (Seaweed) was a true triple-threat, showing impressive physical and vocal stamina with his dance moves and vocal runs in songs like “Run and Tell That.” McCray had adorable amounts of chemistry with Anna Gvodas (Penny) who managed to make her dorky character incredibly endearing. Another standout was Matthew Saylor (Link), who masterfully transitioned from a bland and spineless wannabe to a determined champion of civil rights. Although some of the show’s more serious moments felt lost in the party atmosphere, Naomi Ude (Maybelle) kept the show grounded in reality with her emotive, show-stopping rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been.”
A highlight of the production was Reva Tharwani, who choreographed everything from the jazzy “Run and Tell That” to the tap dancing in “The Big Dollhouse.” Also impressive was the vivid lighting by Payton Jobson, which added to the show’s dance-party atmosphere. Although there were some difficulties managing the volume of the show’s sounds, it’s entirely forgivable given the large number of cast members with mics.
With energetic performances and concert-like technical elements, The Hill School delivered a superb, psychedelic spectacle that would keep any viewer from changing the channel.