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Feature article on LNT's Hairspray in today's Times Argus

April 14, 2016
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In the News... HAIRPSRAY!
Feature article on LNT's Hairspray in today's Times Argus

picture of hairsrpay article in thu Times Argus

Top of the fold and on the first page of Thursday April 14's Arts Section!
Written by the Arts Editor himself: Jim Lowe

 

Big Hair, Big Dreams, Big Hit!  Book Your Tickets Now!

here's the article, reprinted with permission:

‘Hairspray’: Lost Nation tackles ‘60s song and dance extravaganza

“Hairspray,” that frothy 2003 Broadway musical celebrating TV dance shows of the ’60s, is opening Lost Nation Theater’s 2016 season — hardly the usual fare for the Montpelier professional company.

“It’s a lot of fun,” explains Kathleen Keenan, the company’s producing artistic director. 

“We’ve not ever done a big dancing show before,” she said in a Sunday interview between rehearsals. “We’ve done other big musicals, but not song and dance. That’s stretching us in a big way. Maybe it’s just the right kind of crazy.”

Crazy is right, as it’s the biggest show in the theater’s history. The cast includes 27 actor-dancer-singers, ranging from veteran professionals to high schoolers from the company’s theater classes, and a production team and crew nearly as large.

On the other hand, it’s a quintessential LNT show with its confrontation of racism and body-image stereotyping.

“It affords us the opportunity to engage the community and come up with partnerships with other organizations,” added Keenan, who is directing. “And it provides an opportunity for all the students who have been studying with us and other programs throughout the state to have this challenging opportunity.”

“Hairspray,” which runs April 21-May 8 at Montpelier City Hall Arts Center, is based on the 1988 John Waters film. With music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, it won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

It’s 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad has only one desire — to dance on the popular Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. Can she succeed in using her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network, without denting her ’do?

At the heart of “Hairspray” is the effervescent song and dance of the ’60s. Choreographer Taryn Noelle has already been training the younger dancers in a two-week workshop.

“Those ’60s dances have so much freedom and energy and joy and passion in them,” she said. “I just wanted to harness that, to let the dancers express themselves in a free but also choreographed way — so there’s kind of a duality of capturing that freedom and letting themselves unleash that at times, and to work with organized patterns. I thought it would be tremendous fun.”

And then there’s the irresistible music.

“It’s a breath of fresh air when you have music that’s really fun and moves — that is musically complex,” said music director Nick Bombicino. “So much pop music today is about beats and dances, but that’s pretty much all there is.”

At the start of the show, the music is all on the beat with clunky chords in the bass. 

“It’s beautiful and of a time,” Bombicino said. “But, as the show moves through, you end up with the final song with almost every single note in the piano-conductor score on the upbeat. 

“It just flips everything on its head — which is exactly what the story and time period did,” Bombicino said.

This is also the first time City Hall Arts Center has seen a song-and-dance musical.

“I’m very excited to see how the intimacy of our space affects the show; this show is usually done where the closest seat is 20 feet away, not the farthest seat,” Keenan said, adding, “I love that we can just have a great time and put on some quality entertainment that has some bite to it, a message that’s important right now.”

Lost Nation Theater

Lost Nation Theater presents “Hairspray,” the 2003 Broadway musical, April 21-May 8 at City Hall Arts Center, 39 Main St. in Montpelier. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday - Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For tickets or information, call 802-229-0492, or go online to www.lostnationtheater.org. A special party on opening night, Friday, April 22, will be catered by Bon Temps Gourmet and Sweet Melissa’s.