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Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas

Saturday night at the Alden Theatre, three talented women from the Tony award-winning musical Hairspray have brought their stories & their powerful vocals together for one night only. To quote Vitamin C, “And as our lives change,  come whatever, we will still be… friends forever.” From what I seen on that McLean stage, they have proven this to be true.

For the first time in 43 years, I have ventured to the McLean Community Center in McLean, VA to see the show Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now: The Leading Ladies of Hairspray in their Alden Theatre. To see the first theatre for the very first place, my first impressions were grand. It’s a medium sized theatre where they views are spectacular that I am already planning a second venture soon.  Unlike many of the shows that I have attended in the past, a young lady from theatre had advised us that we CAN take pictures with no flash. With that in mind, now on to the review.

With the three-piece band taking their place, the original Tracy Trunblad (Marissa Jaret Winokur), Amber von Tussle (Laura Bell Bundy) and Penny Pingleton (Kerry Butler) came to cozy little big theatre to entertain the nearly sold out crowd for ninety uninterrupted minutes of our Broadway magic. Dressed in sparkly dresses, the trio started off the night with one of the show’s signature songs Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now with the audience applauding and cheering at the end of the piece. “Hello Lovers!” Kerry proclaimed to the audience which us Virginians know what she meant. When Laura inquired why she stated that, Kerry informed her about that state slogan “Virginia is for Lovers!” Then she chimed in “what about the virgins?” And then Laura said “hello virgins” which got some hearty laughs. Marissa told us what we are getting ourselves into that the three will talk and sing about their lives before, during and after Hairspray.

First, the trio told us about their lives before Hairspray. We learned that Laura was a young pageant queen and a child star starring in shows like Ruthless. We also got to learn what famous future pop singer was her understudy. (And yes, that pop star included her in her recent memoir). Marissa was a young lady wanting to make it on stage but her parents didn’t want her to pursue it until she was older. Finally, Kerry was young starlet on the stage herself. Throughout the stories of the past, we were treated to a medley of songs of their playdates. Starting with Laura dressing up as Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music and leading us to a snippet of Do-Re-Mi. When Kerry, emphasized on the word “Ha”, it suddenly goes into the classic Cliff Richard/Olivia Newton-John song Suddenly, emphasis on the “ha” included. While, Marissa channels her Ethel Merman with a rendition of There’s No Business Like Show Business like no tomorrow!

The first act vocal range of the trio have really shown through. Bundy did some Garland impersonations; from the young innocent Judy singing Over the Rainbow to a mature Ms. Judy. Kerry told us about her audition for Annie and the song choice she did at the tender age of nine. Let’s say that singing Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff may gotten a few chuckles and great cheers from the audience tonight but may not gotten her the role. While Bundy & Butler were tasting the limelight at a young age, Marissa sang the song Some People from Gypsy to reflect not only on her great Mama Rose but also that her talent is ready to come out.

The moment arrived where we got to learn about the first read of Hairspray where Marissa and Laura have met & that Laura had known Marissa from her first Broadway role in Grease where she only had one singing line in the show. At the time they could not find a Penny after many women were called but none were found. The production wanted to cut the role but John Waters said “you can’t do that” and then they finally found her and proclaimed that they have their own Disney princess for Kerry was in Beauty and the Beast.

Kerry gave us a mini Disney medley with Belle while Marissa and Laura played the townspeople. With Pocahontas, the two were waving fans to act as the Colors of the Wind. Finally, Kerry informed us that her favorite Disney princess is Ariel and that she performed the demo for The Little Mermaid at Alan Menken’s house. After hearing her perform “Part of Your World”, we wondered why she did get the role. Oh Well. Now that the Hairspray trifecta was formed, we got one more Disney treat in the form of one of my favorite songs A Whole New World.

Then, we heard the thrilling Marissa Jaret Winokur belt out the song that close to our hearts of the locals (well 45 mins away) and the song that help her achieved her Tony back in 2003…Good Morning Baltimore and I tell you all, she still kills it!

Act III focused on…. well I can’t spoil everything now could I. Let’s just say that throughout the night, we get to hear songs from the trio other musicals including Legally Blonde, Little Shop of Horrors and Wicked! One of the many highlights that you will get to enjoy is a special medley that pays tribute to motherhood, a killer duet from a big musical and a showstopping finale that’s not to be missed.

Dean on the Scene w. The Three Leading Ladies of Hairspray (L to R: Laura Bell Bundy, Marissa Jaret Winokur & Kerry Butler)

This show is A Must See for any fan of the three brilliant actresses or true theatre geek to sit back and listen to the music. When this show comes to your city, you want to get ready for one of the best times of your life. Great stories, wonderful music and two decades of everlasting friendship on display. Alden Theatre has delivered a power packed show to start the summer season. What more to say except… Good Evening Washington!

FINAL GRADE: A++ 

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