Theatre of the Republic (TOR), the name conjures memories of L’il Abner, Mark Twain, Jesus Christ Superstar and 9. This is not your run of the mill little theater. The talent pool at TOR runs deep and wide. These folks are serious about their craft and it shows.
The latest offering is Hairspray, a musical comedy set in segregated Baltimore in the early sixties. It delves into race, women’s weight and forbidden love. Yep, lots of room to be a tacky, preachy bore. But wait, on the horizon, coming to save the day and make this funny and entertaining is the Theatre of the Republic! And boy, do they!
From newcomer to seasoned pro, the cast draws you into their world and makes that world real. No wooden monotones to be found, the dialog and emotions are solid and convincing. No easy trick when so much of the show is campy.
Of special note is Emily Ann Martel who plays our heroine, Tracy. The only word that comes to mind is spitfire. Don’t let her near a gas station, her energy might cause an inferno.
Newcomer Reggie Bromell has solid chops and is a performer to watch. Chase Clark turns in a commendable performance while keeping his “Elvis do” perfectly balanced.
Kudos to Chuck and Diane DeVaughn Stokes. They could very easily just phone it in but they are top drawer every second of every scene. They are the backbone of the cast.
Brandon Shoemaker’s performance is worth the price of admission alone, if for nothing else than the ability to dance in those shoes.
The music is first rate but just when you think you’ve heard it all, Latreece Hilly takes the stage as Motormouth Maybelle and lets loose with “Big, Blond and Beautiful”. By the end of the song, the audience was in love with this woman.
TOR’s Hairspray is sassy, rascally, campy fun. It’s talented people having fun and bringing the audience along for the ride. This is a solid four tiger paw show.
For ticket and more info: Theatre of the Republic Website