Judging by the crowds on opening weekend, it looks like the Wichita Theatre has another hit on their hands with Hairspray.

Not only were the ticket sales good, but everyone seemed to love the performance, too.

I was able to attend the Saturday night performance and had a great time. The set was groovy, the songs were a gas, and the acting was outta sight (to steal a few slang terms from the '60s).

In keeping with the tradition of the show, the lead female role, Edna Turnblad, is played by a male actor (John Travolta played Edna in the 2007 movie version) . I don't know why, that's just the way the show has always been cast. This time, Edna is played by Jeremy Lynn Motley. Wichita Theatre regulars will remember him as Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof and as director of Happy Days The Musical. Whether speaking or singing, Jeremy does an outstanding job in this production.

Edna is the mother of the primary character, Tracy Turnblad, played by Emily Clements.  Emily played Glinda in the 2006 production of The Wizard of Oz at the Wichita Theatre and has played several roles at Backdoor Theatre as well. She pours her heart and soul into this show and it's obvious why she was cast as Tracy. She simply rocks!

Tracy's romantic interest in Hairspray is Link Larkin, played by Jonathan Barnes. A vocal performance student at Midwestern State University, Jonathan gets to showcase his talents with songs, dancing, and snappy acting throughout this show. This is his first show at the Wichita Theatre, but he's been involved with several productions at Backdoor.

Sydney Frank plays Tracy's best friend, Penny, and is an absolute joy to watch on stage. At only 17, Sydney is already a veteran of several shows at the Wichita Theatre, playing Meg in Little Women The Musical, Jasmine in Alladin Jr., the Wardrobe in Disney's Beauty And The Beast Jr. and more.

Penny's romantic interest is Seaweed Stubbs, played by Jeremy Tyrone Saxton. A senior at Midwestern State University, Jeremy is no stranger to the Wichita Theatre stage having been in High School Musical 2 and Cats. Not only does Jeremy have an outstanding voice, but he's a pretty sharp dancer, too! In fact he's one of the instructors at Dance Etc.

Tracy's rival for the affection of Link is Amber Von Tussle, played by Abigail Clements. Whitney is another MSU student with plenty of experience at the Wichita Theatre, notably playing Belle in Disney's Beauty And The Beast in 2006 and 2007.

Amber's mother, Velma VonTussle, is played by Whitney Longcrier, another veteran Wichita Theatre performer. You may have seen her as Marty in Grease, and several shows at Backdoor Theatre.

Mixed in with all of the romantic entanglements of the show is the story line of breaking down segregation barriers in the 1960s and the key players there are Corny Collins, played by Michael Sherry and Motormouth Maybelle, played by Mineasa Nesbit. These two characters pull everything together with song and dance, and singing and dancing are two things they do exceptionally well! There was even a brief standing ovation in the middle of the performance at the end of one of Mineasa's songs.

There are several more characters and actors in this production and they all do an outstanding job. Even Lonestar 102.3's own Little Meg is part of the show!

Emily Clements (Tracy Turnblad) and Nancy Brasfield (Prudy Pingleton) came up to the Lonestar studios last week to tell us a bit about the show, click here to listen to my conversation with them.

Hairspray runs through July 23rd. For reservations, call the Wichita Theatre at 940.723.9037 or visit them online at the Wichita Theatre website.

Welcome to the '60s! Hairspray is definitely a big "DO" this summer at the Wichita Theatre, 10th and Indiana, downtown!


Dave D.



More From 102.3 The Bull