AUBURN — Great dancing, a score filled with 1960s-style songs and lots of good belly laughs put the current Community Little Theatre production of “Hairspray” into well-earned showstopper status. It opened to a sold-out, standing-ovation audience Friday, Aug. 8.

The cast is huge, and every performer makes a meaningful contribution to this delightful musical. Several young actors step onto the CLT stage with the benefit of youth theater and high school shows. The remarkable talent they display here is sure to shine in future CLT and area productions.

Megan Malloy’s portrayal of Tracy Turnblad is outstanding. As the chubby teen with perpetual optimism, Malloy combines excellent vocal and dance ability in her CLT debut. She will be a senior at Gray-New Gloucester High School, and in the program notes she says she has her sights set on Broadway and a musical theater career. This is a positive step on that path.

“Hairspray” is set in Baltimore in 1962. Tracy is determined to land a spot on the popular “Corny Collins Show,” a local TV dance program modeled after “American Bandstand.” Tracy’s personal aspirations soon turn into a campaign to combat the show’s racism.

Tracy’s parents are without a doubt the major scene-stealers. John B. Nutting’s portrayal of Edna Turnblad (played in drag) hits all requirements of the role that range from several hilarious situations to the convincing sensitivity of a mother. Dan Kane plays Wilbur, the father, who draws plenty of laughs from his business as owner of a joke shop.

It’s the fourth CLT show for both actors. Their duet and dance to “Timeless to Me” is a highlight.

Nakesha “Kay” Warren as Motormouth Maybelle and Stefanie Lynn as Velma Von Tussle deliver showstopping vocals.

Warren’s “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” celebrates her proud-to-be-black attitude as she leads the teens in their efforts to integrate the all-white (except for monthly “Negro Day”) “Corny Collins Show.” She also gives a sensational rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” near the show’s finale.

Lynn, the villainous producer of the show, belts out “Velma’s Revenge” when she’s threatened by Tracy’s plans for an integrated show.

Other fine performances are given by Mike Jenkins (a recent Lisbon High School graduate) as Link Larkin, teen idol who falls for Tracy; Jake Boyce (a junior at Dean College in Massachusetts) as Seaweed Stubbs, Maybelle’s son with hip dance steps; Sophie Messina (Edward Little High School sophomore) as Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s best friend; and Olivia Mayo ( St. Dominic’s Academy senior and a CLT veteran since the age of 5) as Amber Von Tussle, following in her mother’s vindictive steps.

Megan Guyans demonstrates impressive vocal and dance talent as Lil Inez, Seaweed’s younger sister. Derrick Lacasse appears as TV host Corny Collins.

Vincent S. Ratsavong is choreographer and director of this outstanding staging of “Hairspray.” Every cast member’s movement and every corner of the stage gets his attention. There’s some outstanding ensemble dancing that calls for extraordinary skills, and the cast meets the high expectations.

Jake Boyce and Audrey Martin are co-choreographers. Kay Warren is co-director and producer.

The TV show’s sponsor is a hairspray company, so audiences should be aware that a couple of scenes feature plenty of spritzing from the aerosol canisters.

The entire cast gets the audience to their feet with “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” a rousing finale number.

Credit for this musical’s success also goes to the orchestra, which is on stage on a raised platform. Courtney Babbidge is music director with experience in 30 musicals. The orchestra’s backing is well done for the music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Remaining performances of “Hairspray” are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 14-16, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and Sunday, Aug. 17.

The show is presented at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn.

For tickets call the CLT box office at 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.


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