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'Hairspray: In Concert' is a celebration at Strathmore

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and principal pops conductor Jack Everly celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Waters' original film "Hairspray," in high style on the Strathmore stage on Thursday.

"Hairspray: In Concert" gathers an all-star cast of Broadway, film and TV stars in the world-premiere of a full, semistaged symphonic production of the Broadway musical "Hairspray."

Far from an abbreviated version of the Tony Award-winning musical, the entire score and full cast is presented with Waters providing an encapsulated plot narration.

Micky Dolenz, best known as the drummer and lead vocalist in the 1960s sitcom "The Monkees," performs the roll of Wilbur Turnblad. Tracy Turnblad, the story's protagonist and star of the musical, is performed by Marissa Perry, the last actress to play the role on Broadway.

Onstage
BSO SuperPops Premiere: 'Hairspray: In Concert'
» Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
» When: 8 p.m. Thursday
» Info: $31 to $91; 410-783-8000; bsomusic.org

"I think it's nice for an audience member to want to cheer for somebody," said Perry about her role as a pleasingly plump teenager coming of age in 1962 Baltimore. Tracy's great dream and ambition in life is to dance on the "Corny Collins Show," a local program based on the real-life "Buddy Deane Show."

In this feel-good production, Perry admits to its many challenges, especially for an actress of a certain weight.

"The dancing is the most difficult," she noted. "Tracy is the head of the train; she's the steam engine. During the Broadway run, we clocked it at only 12 minutes offstage throughout the entire two-hour, 40-minute show. Conditioning is really important in my life so I can sing while dancing and jumping around."

Indeed, the production calls for a busy stage, with orchestra, full cast, The Divas of Song featuring Natalie Renee, Nikki Stephenson and Melissa VanPelt, and finally, the ensemble and chorus rolls filled by students from the Baltimore School for the Arts.

And then, there is Waters, himself -- as authentic as a Baltimore crab cake.

"He's really special," Perry said. "He inspires the actresses who think there will never be rolls for big girls."

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