“Hairspray,” a feel-good musical with equal amounts energy and heart, has made its debut at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel. As a longtime fan of the 2007 film, I wasted no time securing my ticket.
Set to the backdrop of a racially segregated Baltimore in the ‘60s, “Hairspray” follows Tracy Turnblad, a spunky plus-sized teen with dreams of dancing on her favorite TV show. When she becomes aware that her Black schoolmates are struggling to integrate the show, she constructs a plan to ensure that all people, no matter color or size, have a chance to show their moves to the world.
Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production is full of local talent. Micheal Hassel, starring as Seaweed Stubbs, is a gifted musical theater major at Ball State University. Joyce Licorish, who plays Motormouth Maybelle, produced “Five Heartbeats the Musical” in Indianapolis. The lead, Nina Stilabower, has 15 years of experience in community theater.
While watching the production, it was hard to resist singing along to the catchy, familiar tunes, especially when Joyce Licorish stole the show by belting out “I Know Where I’ve Been.” I wanted to dance along with the cast while they preformed the iconic “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and I couldn’t help but giggle during the humorous performance of “I Can Hear the Bells.”
It is a timely production. Watching teens in the ‘60s fight for their rights couldn’t help but remind me of today’s passionate teens who have made headlines while protesting against injustices in the 21st century. Hairspray reminds audiences that young people can make a difference, a person’s worth is not determined by skin color or size, and that the world is better when diverse people work together.
Catch “Hairspray” until May 12 at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. Tickets start at $24.50 for students, $45.50 for adults and are available online at civictheatre.org.
Contact reporter Keshia McEntire at 317-762-7853. Follow her on Twitter