On October, 6th, Crown and Scepter Theater Company presented the first post-Broadway production of Hairspray to a packed Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at uptown’s Symphony Space. The production started off with could only be described as a myriad of technical glitches. The mic levels consisted of either too loud or off, and the shaky sets proved to be as much of a distraction and hazard. But, such is live theater.
Crown and Scepter (C&S) Theater Company was founded in 2010 by a group of young actors from Columbia University as a means of breaking into the NY Theater community. It has since grown with the help of local businesses and volunteer support. The company’s mission “is to produce fully staged productions of hit Broadway musicals at professional theater venues in New York City, and through these theatrical shows provide a platform for performers and back-stage talent to refine their craft and gain exposure in New York.” (Crown and Scepter’s Facebook page).
According to production notes, Hairspray tells the story of Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad – a pleasantly plump girl with big hair and an even bigger heart. With the help of her friends, she strikes a blow for equality in the fast-changing world of 1960’s America.
C&S’s production of Hairspray managed to showcase some fresh talent emerging on the NY theater scene as well as high energy choreography from Oren Korenblum. The only real problems of the show seemed to be the pacing of the scenes. With a musical comedy, the book scenes are just as important as the songs, while the musical numbers seemed to have received the most attention in terms of staging and choreography, the book scenes seemed more like an afterthought. There was also a problem with other aspects of staging the show, the stage at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre is very large, the production seemed to be swallowed up by the stage. This could have been easily remedied by a painted backdrop or larger sets.
While the sets left little to be desired, one aspect of the production stood tall, the costumes. The costumes and wigs in this production were amazing, evocative of the Broadway and movie productions of Hairspray, it was easy to tell where most of the show’s budget went.
While yes, there might have been a few technical glitches, it should be noted that there were also some stand-out performances. As Penny Pingleton, Heidi Jaye brought a small part into the spotlight, her delivery and comic timing, as well as improvisational skills when a set piece malfunctioned, were hilarious highlights of the show. Daniel Yearwood as Penny’s love interest Seaweed J. Stubbs brought high energy and the house down with his rendition of “Run and Tell That.” While other stand-outs included Katie Lutkowski as the Female Authority Figure, landed every joke with the skill of a seasoned comedian, and Tiffany Casserta’s Motormouth Maybelle stopped the show with her version of “I Know Where I’ve Been.”
For more information on Crown and Scepter Theater Company, visit their Facebook page.
Please note, this production received 3.5 stars, but quadrust.com does not allow half star ratings.