Casa Manana Wigs Out With Hyper Hairspray

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

Under the gigantic dome at Fort Worth's 1000-seat Casa Mañana theater, the cast of the musical Hairspray sings and dances wearing wigs shaped like giant domes. The hairpieces, costumes, scenery, performances - all loud and larger than life. That's just what this show requires, of course.

You can't expect subtlety in a musical comedy starring a fat man in drag.

The man playing agoraphobic housewife Edna Turnblad at Casa Mañana is veteran local actor David Coffee. He makes a fine lady, speaking in his gruff voice and stomping around like a stevedore with beehive hair. His duet with Doug LoPachin, the actor playing Edna's supportive husband Wilbur Turnblad, is genuinely sweet.

The real star is Jennifer Foster, a Texas State University undergrad playing the leading role of high school misfit Tracy Turnblad. Her character infiltrates the Corny Collins Show on Baltimore TV and, as a social activist in 1962, integrates the show and finds the boyfriend of her dreams. Foster, who looks a little like a young Dawn French, sings and dances like a total pro, with comedy moves to boot.

The huge cast features more than 25 North Texas actors, including Cara Statham Serber (as Velma, the racist owner of the TV station), Christopher Deaton (in a bunch of different roles and bizarre costumes), Sheran Goodspeed-Keyton (as Motormouth Maybelle), Darius-Anthony Robinson and Jeremy Dumont (both in the high-energy corps of dancers).

It's a great big family-friendly musical that has little in common with the original Hairspray movie by John Walters, but it's just about perfect as light summer entertainment.

Hairspray continues through August 21 at Casa Mañana, Fort Worth. Call 817-332-2272 or casamanana.org.

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