'Hairspray' talent, performances glitter
  • Friday, March 22, 2019
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Features| Hawaii News

‘Hairspray’ talent, performances glitter

    courtesy diamond head theatre Stacey Pulmano, as Tracy Turnblad, center, shines in "Hairspray" and is surrounded by an equally talented cast.


Two talented stars, a tremendous supporting cast, colorful costumes and, yes, all those wigs are key ingredients in Diamond Head Theatre’s snappy summer production of "Hairspray."


>>Where: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.
>> When: 8 p.m. Thursdays to Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 7 >> Cost: $12-$42
>> Info: 733-0274 or www.diamondheadtheatre.com

Stacey Pulmano is marvelous as plus-size heroine Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore teen who wins a spot dancing on the "Corny Collins Show" and then tries to end the show’s "whites only" and "Negro Day" policy. Randl Ask transcends the obvious gender issue inherent in his role and delivers a magnificent multifaceted performance as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s triple-X-size mother.

Director and choreographer Andrew Sakaguchi surrounds them with talent. His best discovery is 13-year-old Arianne Yago, who lights up the stage and makes her character, Little Inez, a major presence. Yago has star-caliber stage presence even when performing as part of the dance line.

Jonathan Clarke Sypert plays Inez’s older brother, Seaweed J. Stubbs, with a deft blend of athleticism and keen comic timing. Alexandra Lanning (Penny Pingleton) makes good use of her comic skills in the role of Stubbs’ clueless but good-hearted friend.

Howard Bishop is superb as Tracy’s ever-supportive but fashion-challenged father. "Timeless to Me," Bishop’s big song-and-dance number with Ask, could easily go wrong for many reasons, but the pair make it the testament to a loving marriage it is intended to be.

Reyn Halford (Link Larkin) lives up to expectations as the hunky lead dancer and would-be teenage recording artist who falls in love with Tracy. Chris Gritti (Corny Collins) has the look and vocal style of an early ’60s deejay and television host. Reneé Noveck and Leiney Rigg are a fine team of comic villains — Noveck is bigoted television producer Velma Von Tussle and Rigg her self-centered, air-head daughter, Amber.

Lisa Konove gives two solid comic performances as an insensitive gym teacher and dictatorial prison matron. Local stage veteran Braddoc De Caires has four comic roles and excels in all of them.

Sakaguchi does an excellent job keeping the comic elements of the story in play. He also achieves the right balance when handling dialogue and situations that represent a time when it was taken for granted that blacks and whites did not mix socially and that even afternoon teen dance shows were segregated. Sypert and Yago step forward as the lead voices in "Run and Tell That," the first number that brings the issues of racism and segregation to the fore. It is a memorable showcase for both of them.

Toni Russell (Motormouth Maybelle) brings a powerful voice and some risqué undercurrents to her first big spot, "Big Blonde and Beautiful," the rousing call for equality that closes Act 1.

Sakaguchi’s choreography is spot-on as well. "Timeless to Me" is comical yet sensitive. The expansive television show dance sequences capture the era perfectly.

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